For the second weekend in a row, a Lionsgate horror title is providing a bright spot to an otherwise downbeat weekend at the North American box office.
“Jigsaw,” the eighth installment in the “Saw” franchise, is expected to take in an estimated $18 million to $22 million at about 2,800 locations. Lionsgate’s second weekend of the comedy “Boo 2! A Madea Halloween” is probably going to finish in second place at about $10 million, following its $21.2 million launch last weekend.
That’s likely to be well ahead of two other new titles — Paramount’s dark comedy “Suburbicon” and DreamWorks’ PTSD drama “Thank You for Your Service.” “Suburbicon,” directed by George Clooney and starring Matt Damon, is heading for $5 million to $7 million at 2,046 venues. Forecasts place Universal’s “Thank You for Your Service,” starring Miles Teller, in a similar range at 2,054 sites.
It will be the final weekend of what’s been a depressing month for moviegoing, with October grosses down 15.4% to $439.8 million as of Oct. 23, according to comScore. But the industry is poised to see a surge on Nov. 3 to Nov. 5 when Disney-Marvel opens the tentpole “Thor: Ragnarok” amid expectations of a $100 million-plus weekend.
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“Jigsaw,” named after the deranged killer played by Tobin Bell, has been marketed extensively by Lionsgate in recent weeks with a “Jigsaw is everywhere” campaign that highlights a Jigsaw army in puppet makeup — including Bell and the army ringing the opening bell at the the New York Stock Exchange to celebrate the opening day of New York Comic Con — a blood drive with “Saw” nurses, and a virtual reality campaign.
The seven previous “Saw” movies have grossed a combined $450 million at the domestic box office, led by 2010’s “Saw 3D.” “Jigsaw,” which has a budget around $10 million, is directed by brothers Michael and Peter Spierig.
“Suburbicon,” which premiered at the Venice Film Festival, is set in a suburban community in 1959 with a tranquil surface, but dark side. Paramount acquired the U.S. distribution rights for $10 million with Black Bear Pictures financing. Clooney directed from a script he wrote with Grant Heslov and the Coen Brothers.
Critics have not been impressed with “Suburbicon,” earning the film a 38% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Julianne Moore, Noah Jupe, and Oscar Isaac also star in the movie, which carries a $25 million budget.
“Thank You for Your Service,” based on the David Finkel book, follows a group of U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq who struggle to integrate back into family and civilian life. Teller stars along with Haley Bennett, Joe Cole, Amy Schumer, Beulah Koale, Scott Haze, and Keisha Castle-Hughes.
Jason Hall, who wrote the “American Sniper” screenplay, makes his directorial debut on “Thank You for Your Service” with Jon Kilik (“The Hunger Games”) producing. Universal staged a two-week tour to Washington, D.C., Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, St. Louis, Denver, and Phoenix, with screenings and Q&As with talent and filmmakers attended by veterans and active duty military. Nearly 200 showings were held for members of the military community.
The campaign for “Thank You for Your Service” is aimed at non-coastal cities and communities with a sizable population of active military and veterans.