UPDATE 1-‘Saw 3D’ makes the cut at Halloween box office

* Final “Saw” horror No. 1 with $24.2 million

* Lionsgate readies replacement genre film

* “Paranormal Activity 2” slips to No. 2
(Updates with “Saw 3D” analysis, quotes; details on additional
movies in top 10)

LOS ANGELES, Oct 31 (BestGrowthStock) – The “Saw” horror franchise
is not as sharp as it used to be, but the seventh and final
entry in the annual Halloween series managed to take the top
spot at the weekend box office in North America, according to
studio estimates issued on Sunday.

“Saw 3D” earned $24.2 million during the three days
beginning on Friday, in line with muted expectations, but still
the series’ third-lowest opening.

Last year’s disappointing “Saw VI” launched to just $14.1
million, crushed by the considerably fresher scary
movie”Paranormal Activity.” “Saw 3D” is already close to
surpassing its predecessor’s $28 million total.

The four “Saw” movies before that all opened at No. 1 with
more than $30 million each. The first film in distributor
Lionsgate’s lucrative series opened at No. 3 in 2004 with $14.1
million.

Each film revolves around the grisly fates that befell
victims entangled in elaborate traps. Some critics have
denounced the series as “torture porn,” but “Saw” is one of
Hollywood’s most successful franchises with worldwide ticket
and DVD sales of $1 billion, according to Lionsgate.

The new film cost just under $20 million to make, easily
the priciest in the low-budget series, because of the added
cost of shooting in 3D.

NO MORE “SAW”

While horror movie franchises have a habit of resurrecting
themselves, Lionsgate distribution president David Spitz said
“Saw 3D” is “in all seriousness the final chapter of the
series.” The studio will unveil a new genre film to fill the
Halloween slot in a few weeks, he added, declining to
elaborate.

According to exit surveys, black moviegoers accounted for
42 percent of the audience, followed by about 30 percent for
white viewers. Industry observers said horror movies often
overperform with minorities. Overall, the movie skewed to young
men, as expected.

Last weekend’s champion, “Paranormal Activity 2,” slipped
to No. 2 with $16.5 million, taking the 10-day haul for the
Paramount Pictures sequel to $65.7 million.

Summit Entertainment’s Bruce Willis-led crime ensemble
“Red” held at No. 3 with $10.8 million, giving it a $58.9
million total after three weekends.

Former box office champ “Jackass 3D” fell two places to No.
4 with $8.4 million in its third weekend. The total for the
third entry in Paramount’s prankster reality series rose to
$101.6 million, easily surpassing the $73 million lifetime haul
for 2006’s “Jackass: Number Two.”

Director Clint Eastwood’s supernatural drama “Hereafter,”
starring Matt Damon, slipped one to No. 5 with $6.3 million in
its second weekend of wide release. The total for the Warner
Bros. release stands at a modest $22.2 million, far short of
its reported budget of $50 million.

The only other new entry in the top 10 was Fox
Searchlight’s Hilary Swank legal drama “Conviction,” which
jumped 15 places to No. 10 with $1.8 million in its first
weekend of wide release. Its total stands at $2.4 million.

Lionsgate is a unit of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp
(LGF.N: ). Paramount Pictures is a unit of Viacom Inc (VIAb.N: ).
Summit Entertainment is privately held. Warner Bros. is a unit
of Time Warner Inc (TWX.N: ). Fox Searchlight Pictures is a unit
of News Corp (NWSA.O: ).

(Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Sandra Maler)

UPDATE 1-‘Saw 3D’ makes the cut at Halloween box office