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Posted at 9:17 AM ET, 11/ 1/2010

Weekend box office: 'Saw 3D' comes out on top in Halloween showdown

By Jen Chaney

"Saw 3D": Killing, not so softly. (Lionsgate)

In the Halloween weekend horror battle of 2010 -- a reprise of the 2009 face-off between "Saw VI" and "Paranormal Activity" -- multi-dimensional torture won out over faux documentary chills, at least in the short run.

More details on that -- as well as which movies are the steadiest performers of the season and how Hilary Swank's latest did in wider release -- in this week's box office rundown.

"Saw 3D" was the No. 1 movie at the weekend box office, besting "Paranormal Activity 2," which landed in second place. But before jumping to the conclusion that the Jigsaw franchise has more appeal than the continuing story of suburban California demonic possession, let's look more closely at the numbers.

"Saw 3D" earned $22.5 million, bringing its total to $24 million counting Thursday's early preview screenings. That's significantly less cash than the amount "Paranormal Activity 2" brought in -- $40.6 million -- when it opened last weekend, and even less when one considers that most of "Saw's" revenue came from pricier 3D tickets.

In other words, while the latest torture porn shocker may have won the Halloween sprint, "Paranormal Activity 2" ultimately triumphs in the horror movie marathon. "Saw 3D" cost $20 million and earned $24.2 million, and probably won't tack on much more to that total as interest shifts away from horror in the post-Halloween weeks. But "Paranormal Activity 2" has made $65.6 million on a budget of $3 million. Profitability advantage: "Paranormal."

"Jackass 3D" may have lost a good amount of business but -- as I predicted in last week's rundown -- it did cross the $100 million mark in the last week, having now amassed $101.5 million and become the most lucrative "Jackass" of all time, a title that every American clearly aspires to achieve. Rank-wise, though, it dropped to No. 4.

People over the age of 25 supposedly don't go to the movies, at least not consistently enough for Hollywood to care. Yet several releases that clearly target the adult market have become the most slow-and-steady cash generators of the fall season. "Red," for example, remains at No. 3 after three weeks in release, with $58.9 million to its credit and a mere 28.1 percent drop in tickets sales from last weekend to this one.

"Secretariat" (No. 6) also saw a similarly modest drop in revenue, as did "The Town," which, at No. 9, remained in the top 10 for the seventh week in a row. Breaking with that trend, however? "Hereafter," the Clint Eastwood supernatural drama that dropped in terms of earnings by 47.6 percent, according to Box Office Mojo, despite adding a couple hundred additional screens. Apparently no one wants to see Matt Damon talk to dead people.

Meanwhile, "Conviction" -- the single-mother-takes-on-the-establishment picture starring Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell -- squeaked into the top 10 at No. 10 in its first weekend of wider release, with $1.8 million. Not an overwhelming figure, to be sure, but a small vote of confidence for this broken justice system story.

Looking ahead to next weekend, three major new releases will debut: "Due Date," the heavily advertised comedy starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Zach Galifianakis; the even more hyped animated superhero riff "Megamind"; and Tyler Perry's "For Colored Girls." Which one will cut "Saw 3D" right out of the No. 1 spot? I say "Megamind," but make your own prediction in the poll below.

By Jen Chaney  | November 1, 2010; 9:17 AM ET
Categories:  Movies, Pop Culture  
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