Lionsgate has announced that Saw 3D, the final installment of its flagship horror franchise, has generated record takings on its opening weekend. The film, which was release to coincide with Halloween 2010, took $24.2m in the USA and £3.3m in UK ticket sales. Takings increased by 30% on any other film from the highly successful horror series.
Now recognised as the world’s most successful horror series, the decision to produce the finale in 3D has enticed and entertained fans of the series in equal measure, while paying dividends for Lionsgate. Critics have pointed to the vacuousness nature of many 3D films with the most recent example being Jackass 3D. The team behind Saw will point to the figures they’ve generated to justify the franchise bow-out in 3D.
How much of this success can be attributed to 3D is hard to tell, but it certainly seems to be at the centre of the decision to commission the film. David Spitz, the head of distribution at Lionsgate is unapologetic for the use of 3D:
“Last year, a lot of people said, ‘OK, that’s it. Put a fork in it, it’s done…’ the following week, we were all disappointed and thought, what can we do to reinvigorate the franchise? So we shot the movie in 3D and said this is the final chapter.”
So that’s OK then. Fans of the Saw series will have been pleased with the announcement and subsequent release, but many have raised a quizzical brow about the intent of Lionsgate, and perhaps rightly so. The quote from Spitz implies that there was no natural progression in the narrative arc, and the film was released to exploit what has become a cash cow.
Hollywood is no stranger to exploiting the success of a franchise (and needs no additional reasons to continue the practice), but it’s worrying that format alone is becoming a key driver in box office commissioning.
The popularity of 3D films is being underpinned by strong box office takings and Saw 3D is the latest and greatest advocate for the tridimensional format in the horror genre at least.