The Sawfranchise committed its annual serial killing at the box office over the weekend before Halloween as Saw IVcollected $31.8 million, according to final figures released Monday. Overall, the box office showed little signs of life, recording a take that was lower than last year's for the sixth straight weekend. The No. 2 film was the Steve Carell comedy Dan in Real Life, which debuted with $11.8 million. But a huge drop-off occurred after the top-two. Last weekend's vampire film, 30 Days of Night, had most of the blood drained from it as it saw ticket sales fall to $6.9 million, just ahead of the fifth week of Disney's The Game Plan which took in $6.1 million, to bring its total to $76.9 million the biggest total of the season. Rounding out the top five was Why Did I Get Married?, which brought in $5.4 million in its third week.

The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Media by Numbers (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):

1. Saw IV, Lions Gate, $31,756,764, 1 Wks. (New); 2. Dan in Real Life, Disney, $11,809,445, 1 Wks. (New); 3. 30 Days of Night, Sony, $6,862,764, 2 Wks., ($27,480,907); 4. The Game Plan, Disney, $6,129,720, 5 Wks., ($76,939,167); 5. Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married?, Lions Gate, $5,643,899, 3 Wks., ($47,204,260); 6. Michael Clayton, Warner Bros., $4,924,374, 4 Wks., ($28,668,168); 7. Gone Baby Gone, Miramax, $3,817,451, 2 Wks., ($11,226,975); 8. The Nightmare Before Christmas, Disney, $3,446,012, 2 Wks., ($10,100,435); 9. We Own the Night, Sony, $3,395,012, 3 Wks., ($25,065,018); 10. The Comebacks, Fox Atomic, $3,371,708, 2 Wks., ($9,925,268).


Saw IVwas not screened for critics, who had to stand in line for tickets just like everyone else last weekend. Their reviews turned out to be what the studio must have expected. "The franchise is getting long in the tooth," commented Kyle Smith in the New York Post, adding that the movie might have been called "Saw It Be-IV." Critics, unable and/or unwilling to write a conventional review of the movie, were reduced to writing recommendations like this one from Elizabeth Weitzman in the New York Daily News. "If an hour and a half of so-called 'torture porn' sounds like fun, you'll find Saw IV situated somewhere between the first in the cycle (a solid original with plenty of energy in it) and the last (a gasping copycat willing to do anything to stay alive)." But Scott Schueller in the Chicago Tribune dispensed this advice: "If you like your films disgusting, deplorable and demoralizing rather than smart, scary and suspenseful, go ahead and feed the coffers of Saw IV's makers. If you don't, please don't give the studio a reason to make Saw V. Please."


Concerned about the current negative image of the American military in many countries, Paramount Pictures and Hasbro, the toy manufacturer, have decided that in their forthcoming film featuring comic-book patriot G.I. Joe, the character will become part of a multinational force, the London Daily Telegraphreported today (Tuesday). Even the character's name has become an acronym for Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity, the newspaper said. Word of the makeover is likely to anger U.S. conservatives, the Telegraphnoted. The film is due to open in 2009.


Apparently having overcome the snide comments that greeted the announcement that he had been chosen to play James Bond for Casino Royale, Daniel Craig has signed on to play him again for four more films, according to published reports. MGM chief Harry Sloan told the Hollywood Reporter that Craig had been signed because franchises are "the basis of any studio." Meanwhile, it was reported that writer-director Paul Haggis (Crash) has delivered his screenplay for the next 007 movie to MGM, just beating out the November 1 WGA strike deadline.