THE CAME. THEY SAW SAW. IT CONQUERED.

Saw IV proved to be just the trick for the box office on the weekend before Halloween as the horror sequel debuted with an estimated $32.1 million, down only slightly from Saw III's $33.6 million. Revenue from other films on theater marquees this past weekend could not have been regarded as much of a treat, with total ticket sales falling below last year's pace for the sixth week in a row. In fact the total gross for the Halloween weekend, amounting to $86.1 million, was the worst in ten years. In second place, the Steve Carell flick Dan in Real Life, which drew so-so reviews on Friday, drew so-so business over the weekend as it tallied up $12.1 million in ticket sales. Third place went to Sony's vampire movie, 30 Days of Night which dropped 58 percent to $6.7 million in its second week. If there was another bright spot on the box-office report, it was the continued strong performance of Disney's The Game Plan, which dropped only 23 percent in its fifth weekend to about $6.3 million and bring its total to $77.1 million -- the best of any film thus far this season. Particularly disappointing may have been the performance of Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited as it widened its release to nearly 700 theaters but managed to bring in just $1.7 million, Anderson's worst showing. Among limited releases, Sidney Lumet's Before the Devil Knows You're Dead was very much alive with an estimated $73,500 take at just two theaters.

The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:

1. Saw IV, $32.1 million; 2. Dan in Real Life, $12.1 million; 3. 30 Days of Night, $6.7 million; 4. The Game Plan, $6.3 million; 5. Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married?, $5.7 million; 6. Michael Clayton, $5 million; 7. Gone Baby Gone, $3.9 million; 8. The Comebacks, $3.45 million; 9. We Own the Night, $3.4 million; 10. Tim Burton's the Nightmare Before Christmas, $3.35 million.

RAT CONTINUES TO RATE WITH MOUSE

Continuing to defy analysts' predictions, Disney's Ratatouille remained the No. 1 film at the overseas box office for the fourth weekend in a row earning $21.9 million to bring its overseas gross to $346.8 million. Together with its domestic take, it has now taken in a total of $552 million worldwide.

SHATNER SAYS HE "CAN'T BELIEVE" HE WASN'T CAST IN NEW TREK MOVIE

William Shatner would like to go where one man has gone before -- himself. In interviews over the weekend Shatner expressed disbelief that he has not been cast in the forthcoming Star Trek sequel, although his original co-star, Leonard Nimoy, has been. The London Daily Mail quoted him as saying, "I can't believe it, I'm not in the movie at all. Leonard, God bless his heart, is in, but not me. I thought, 'What a decision to make,' since it obviously is a decision not to make use of the popularity I have to ensure the movie has good box office figures. It didn't seem to be a wise business decision."

WILL TIME WARNER CHIEF STEP DOWN THIS WEEK?

Although the London Times is reporting that Time Warner Chairman and CEO Richard Parsons is expected to announce his decision to step down within the next week, other media journalists are expressing skepticism. At least two writers have observed that Parsons will be attending the Fortune Global Conference in India and that it is not likely that he would announce his exit during such an event.

REJECTED OSCAR CONTENDER BAND PLAYS WELL AT TOKYO

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences may have ruled that Eran Kolirin's The Band's Visit is ineligible for Oscar consideration since more than half its dialogue is in English, but that didn't prevent the film from winning the top Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix at the 29th Tokyo Film Festival on Sunday. Producers of the film, about a group of Egyptian police stranded in Israel, and produced by the Israeli studio July August Productions, will also receive a $50,000 cash award. The festival also awarded Singapore Dreaming, a film about how a family is affected when the patriarch wins the national lottery, its Asian-Middle Eastern film award. Meanwhile, the Jason Reitman comedy Juno won the top prize at the Rome Film Festival on Saturday.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.