Much like box office performance during the year-plus of COVID-19, the success of the Saw franchise has always been relative. None of the features in the series have ever hit nine-figures in North America alone (Darren Lynn Bousman's Saw II came closest, making $87 million in 2005), and the gross for any single film worldwide has never surpassed $164.9 million (which is a total that would have feel short of making the list of the Top 50 performers of 2019). What has allowed the movies to keep coming out is the fact that they're incredibly inexpensive to produce, which most of the movies costing only $10-11 million. In fact, tabulating the reported budgets results in a total of $117 million spent across nine releases – which is why it's pretty special that the brand is now celebrating the fact that it has finally crossed the $1 billion mark.
It has been officially announced by Lionsgate that the money made by Darren Lynn Bousman's Spiral: From The Book Of Saw this past weekend now means that the franchise is now a part of the billion dollar club – with a total of $1,000,799,533 to be precise. The new film, which actually cost about four times as much as the typical Saw movie, won the domestic box office in its second weekend of release, pulling in an extra $4.6 million and bringing its total at home to $15.8 million (adding in the overseas numbers, its international total is at $22.5 million).
When you consider where the Saw movies started, it's pretty damn impressive. Director James Wan made the seminal title for just $1.2 million (it's pretty easy to keep costs down with the majority of the story takes place in one setting), and by the time it was finished playing on the big screen it earned more than 10 times that. Not only did it launch a franchise that for years was an October staple in cinemas, but now Wan is one of the most well-regarded filmmakers in the industry (and has gone on to launch other big series, including Insidious and The Conjuring).
Unfortunately, the rest of the box office picture for this past weekend is... not great. Arguably the biggest new release to come out this past Friday was Zack Snyder's Army Of The Dead, but that was a streaming launch. The highest grossing "new" movie to come was the animated Scoob!, which got a big screen re-release following its PVOD debut last year during the early months of the pandemic. Still, it only made $850,000 and nabbed the eighth spot in the Top 10 – behind Simon McQuoid's Mortal Kombat, which made an additional $935,000 in its fifth week. As for why things played out like this, we're scratching our heads just like you wondering why none of the major studios thought to take advantage of the vacated three day stretch, even with a small-ish movie (there are certainly still plenty of films that audiences are waiting to see after they were delayed last year).
Thankfully, the industry's self-imposed slump should come to a very abrupt end next week, as there is not just one major movie coming out, but two. Craig Gillespie's Cruella is set to arrive in time for the Memorial Day holiday, though it should be noted that the movie will simultaneously be available on the big screen and on Disney+ via their Premier Access service (which requires an additional $30 supplemental payment per movie on top of one's subscription plan). Also set to finally play in theaters in John Krasinski's A Quiet Place Part II, which was one of the first films that had to delay its release date when the pandemic first started shutting down cinemas around the world in March 2020. Which title will prove to be the bigger hit on the three-day weekend? It could be a close race, and it will be one that we will be keeping an eye on. As always, be sure to come back here on CinemaBlend next Sunday to check out the early figures.