The Reject ReportIt wasn’t exactly a return to the form of its youth, but the Saw franchise was able to come back to the top of the box office this weekend. The third lowest opening in the series’ history (ahead of the first film’s $18.2-million opening and last year’s $14.1-million opening for Saw VI), Saw 3D was able to pull in its reported $20-million budget and then some.

On top of the $22.5 million it made over the weekend, it was able to pull in an addition $1.5 million in late night ticket sales from Thursday. The idea of Saw 3D being the finale of the franchise might be flying out the window quicker than a projectile buzzsaw, and Lionsgate will surely be analyzing in the coming days and weeks whether they want to jump back in for Halloween 2011.

It didn’t hurt Saw 3D‘s performance that Paranormal Activity 2 had such a large drop in its second weekend out. With nearly a 60% drop, the film is certainly losing steam faster than the original. It would have been a much closer race for the #1 spot had the sequel had the longevity of its predecessor. Nonetheless, the damage has been done. Paranormal Activity 2, which only cost a reported $3 million to make, is way into the black, and Paramount has more than likely made back enough money to carry the series for the next four or five years. This immediate success and the inevitable continuation of the series (more than likely coming our way every Halloween season) will surely be another factor in Lionsgate deciding if they want to go back to the Saw well one more time.

Jackass 3D, despite having crossed the $100-million line this weekend, had a similarly large drop in its third week, but three films performed very well based off their previous weekend take. RED, Secretariat, and The Town are all proving to have strong legs, as each of them had less than 30% drops from the previous weekend. Another surprise at the box office was the inclusion of Conviction, which expanded to to 565 screens and was able to work its way into the top 10.

Here is how the weekend box office shaped up:

  1. Saw 3D – $22.5m NEW $24m since Thursday
  2. Paranormal Activity 2 – $16.5m (-59.4%) $65.6m total
  3. RED – $10.8m (-28.1%) $58.9m total
  4. Jackass 3D – $8.4m (-60.5%) $101.5m total
  5. Hereafter – $6.3m (-47.4%) $22.1m total
  6. Secretariat – $5m (-27.6%) $44.7m total
  7. The Social Network – $4.7m (-35.4%) $79.7m total
  8. Life As We Know It – $4m (-34.8%) $43.4m total
  9. The Town – $1.9m (-29.1%) $87.6m total
  10. Conviction – $1.8m (+502%) $2.3m total

With Saw 3D slightly underperforming on expectations, the weekend came in at $82.1 million, way down from last weekend’s $117.3 million. It was, however, up 5.7% from the same weekend last year when Michael Jackson’s This Is It debuted in the #1 spot with $23.2 million.

Next weekend seems to mark the beginning of the fall holiday movie season, with three new movies, Due Date, Megamind, and Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls, all opening wide. It’s going to be a huge weekend, but which film rolls up to that #1 spot is going to be something of a toss-up.

We’ll be back on Thursday to run down how we see the weekend turning out.

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