Saw III looks sharp at the US box office

The champagne will be flowing at US distributors Lionsgate today as their third stab at the Saw franchise has opened to massive Halloween success, nabbing $34.4 million. That healthy figure means that the third Saw film is not only the top opening for the week, but the best ever for a Saw movie and the highest grossing launch for Lionsgate themselves. We’re sure Jigsaw’s celebrating by trapping a few friends in torture devices and forcing them to slice off limbs to reach the canapés.

It was the only major wide opening of the week to have an impact – Philip Noyce, on the other hand, will be feeling his blood run a little colder as his apartheid based-on-truth tale Catch A Fire didn’t ignite despite opening on a decent 1,305 screens. The film made just $2 million and didn’t even reach the top 10, landing instead at 12.

There was far better news for Martin Scorsese, as The Departed isn’t living up to its title. The crime thriller is sticking around in second place, scoring some serious success as healthy word of mouth powers it to $91 million so far. The pundits are already predicting that it’ll be his highest-grossing film to date (snatching The Aviator’s gold wings) by the time it does actually depart from cinemas.

The Prestige dropped to third, and made $9.6 million this week. It’s now on $28 million, which is a decent job, though not exactly amazing. In fourth, Flags Of Our Fathers isn’t looking like it’ll have the legs of Mystic River. It’s down to earning $6.3 million in fourth place. Fifth place went to Open Season, still bringing in the family business and beating off competition from Flicka, which had to settle for sixth place.

At the bottom end of the charts we find Man Of The Year at seventh, as Barry Levinson’s politically scathing comedy slowly sinks; The Grudge 2 at eighth showing no sign that it can repeat the stellar success of the first American version and the final two slots filled with Marie Antoinette and Running With Scissors, both in limited release, but with Kirsten Dunst’s queen easily outpacing Annette Bening and the screwed-up family dynamics of Running.

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