SANTA MONICA, Calif., Oct. 29 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ – SAW III, the third entry in Lionsgate and Twisted Picture’s mercilessly terrifying horror franchise, made bloody hay with Lionsgate box office records to open at #1 this weekend, grossing an estimated $34.3 million in 3,167 theatres, or $10,830 per theatre. SAW III is directed by Darren Lynn Bousman (SAW II), from a story by franchise originators Leigh Whannell and James Wan (SAW, SAW II) and screenplay by Whannell.
The Twisted Pictures team of Mark Burg and Oren Koules returned for a third round as producers with Whannell and Wan as executive producers. The announcement was made jointly by Lionsgate President of Theatrical Films Tom Ortenberg and Twisted Pictures’ Burg and Koules. Lionsgate (NYSE:LGF) is the leading independent filmed entertainment studio.
The numbers for SAW III gave Lionsgate its highest-grossing weekend in history, besting the previous record of $31.7 million set by SAW II, an increase of 7.2%. SAW III also achieved the biggest-grossing single day in Lionsgate history, racking up $14.4 million on Friday to displace the previous record of $12.4 million held by Tyler Perry’s MADEA’S FAMILY REUNION.
The film’s opening in 3,167 theatres also marked the widest release in the company’s history. The SAW franchise stands as one the most successful horror series in film history. SAW III also slashed its way into the records books in the U.K., where it opened at #1 with $4.9 million, the first #1 opening for the SAW franchise in the U.K. It was the widest U.K. release in the history of Lionsgate UK, formerly known as Redbus, and the biggest weekend for the SAW franchise ever in the U.K.
Said Ortenberg: "The continued growth of the SAW franchise is nothing short of phenomenal, and is a testament to all of our filmmakers and to the entire Lionsgate team."
Remarked Burg and Koules, "Lionsgate has been the ideal partner for us at Twisted Pictures. SAW III wouldn’t be what it is were it not for the input and support of Peter Block and Jason Constantine, our point people at the studio. The entire Lionsgate team has displayed boundless creativity, energy and marketing savvy, and they have been key to the success of this franchise. And there is still a lot of life in the SAW franchise. Writers have been hired and work is underway on SAW IV, which will continue the SAW reign of terror for Halloween 2007 … After all, legends never die."
Added Bousman, "As a filmmaker and horror fan, it’s been amazing to helm both of these films, SAW II and SAW III. This premise and franchise have so much substance to them, and with the devotion of the fans it is even more important that the SAW series continues. We came up with a lot of great ideas and threads while making SAW III, and fortunately we were able to turn those ideas into individual scenes that perpetuate the SAW themes and motifs. Now that we’ve laid the groundwork for future SAW chapters, I’ll hand off the filmmaking baton – and look forward to next Halloween and another Jigsaw fix."
The weekend box office was not the only triumph for the SAW franchise, as two SAW charity initiatives resulted in major contributions to the American Red Cross. Posters from the first printing of the official SAW III poster, depicting star Tobin Bell as a red-cape-clad Jigsaw, were put on sale via Lionsgate website. In an apt twist, a vial of Bell’s own blood was mixed into the red ink used for his character’s scarlet cape. The first print in the series, autographed by the film’s cast and crew, was auctioned on the website, with a winning bid of $1,110. 562 unsigned "blood posters" were sold at $20 each, which combined with the auction sales to raise a total of $12,350 for the Red Cross. Meanwhile, the SAW III Blood Drive, a tradition that dates back to the original SAW, took place in 203 sites nationwide. As of Sunday, the drives had netted over 16,000 pints, with 70 drives left to report.
This puts the SAW III blood drive well on track to raising 25,000 pints, saving 75,000 lives, according to Red Cross estimates. This represents a 150% increase from 2005, when SAW II’s 104 blood drives netted 10,000 pints, saving an estimated 30,000 lives. In 2004, 50 blood drives for SAW netted 4,200 pints, saving an estimated 12,000 lives.