‘Saw’ to scare Universal Studios

Lionsgate, theme park pact for 'Horror' event

Lionsgate has inked a deal with Universal Studios to integrate its “Saw” franchise into the theme park’s annual “Halloween Horror Nights” event.

Pact makes “Saw” the latest horror franchise that wasn’t produced by Universal to be added to the event’s lineup. Last year, it introduced a haunted maze themed around New Line’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street” pics and featured “Friday the 13th.”

It also helps kill off competition created by a “Saw” haunted house that had been set up south of Los Angeles in Brea last year and scared visitors away from U’s park in Hollywood. An estimated 20,000 people visited the “Saw” house last year.

Lionsgate had officially backed the house, set in a shuttered movie theater and built by franchise fan Jeff Schiefelbein, with promos and other support to push the fifth installment. Schiefelbein has built more general-themed haunted houses there over the last several years.

Given its success, Lionsgate and “Saw’s” producers at Twisted Pictures had planned on moving the “Saw” house to a larger location closer to L.A. in order to accommodate more visitors this Halloween, but opted to broker the deal with Universal instead.

The theme park should guarantee not only a bigger budget to build the planned horror maze that will promote the sixth film, but also a considerably larger audience, considering the “Saw” attractions will appear at U’s parks in Hollywood and Orlando.

Combined, the parks attract hundreds of thousands of thrill-seekers each year for “Halloween Horror Nights.”

Universal plans to incorporate the “Saw” franchise’s characters and grisly traps in a maze and in the parks’ dedicated “scare zones,” as well as on the “Terror Tram,” a revamped version of its studio tram tour.

“This partnership represents a new landmark for the ‘Saw’ film franchise in that it allows us together with Twisted Pictures to further expand the brand and immerse fans in the horrifying world of ‘Saw,’ ” said Aubrey McClure, senior VP of promotions and licensing for Lionsgate.

Universal Studios Hollywood’s creative department will work with Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures to incorporate “Saw” into the parks.

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