Despite less-than-stellar reviews, Chris Rock's high-profile Saw reboot, Spiral: From the Book of Saw, managed to dominate the box office during its opening this weekend. Hailing from Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures, the film — which currently holds a 39 percent on Rotten Tomatoes — brought in $8.7 million domestically and $3.3 million overseas for a global debut of about $12 million. That figure is the smallest opening of the entire franchise (currently creeping up on a collective $1 billion worldwide), but it's rather commendable by pandemic standards.
"The Saw franchise is continuing its winning streak with Spiral, giving the horror series its sixth number one debut, albeit with lower numbers than is typical, but of course the theatrical marketplace is still working from a deficit and many moviegoers [are] perhaps waiting for Memorial weekend to get their big screen fix," Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst for Comscore, tells SYFY WIRE. "Memorial weekend will be a key stress test for the industry and if stronger than expected returns are generated by A Quiet Place Part II and Cruella, then there will be much to celebrate as we head into a summer movie season that will be getting a late start, but could serve as a beacon of hope for theaters."
Based on an original story from Rock, Spiral (directed by multi-Saw vet Darren Lynn Bousman) sees the actor/comedian take on the role of Zeke Banks, a seasoned NYPD homicide detective hot on the trailer of a brand-new Jigsaw killer. This time around, the sadistic murderer is targeting cops and if he's not careful, Zeke and his father (played by Samuel L. Jackson) will end up in one of the series' deadly traps.
"The idea of the police kind of procedural thing was there [in the script by Josh Stolberg and Peter Goldfinger]," Bousman recently explained to SYFY WIRE. "You know, one of the things to remember is this is not Saw IX. It is the ninth installment, but it's Spiral. We looked at when we were creating it: 'What do we bring in from a familiarity standpoint, so it doesn't feel like a complete redo, and what do we get rid of?'"
Max Minghella (The Handmaid's Tale) and Marisol Nichols (24) co-star.
Zack Snyder's Army of the Dead also hit several hundred domestic sites this weekend for a limited one-week engagement on the big screen before the movie premieres on Netflix this coming Friday (May 21). According to Forbes' entertainment section, the genre-melding project, which follows a group of mercenaries attempting to rob a Vegas casino vault in the middle of a sea of undead ghouls, brought in $780,000 in North America.
That number may not seem on par with previously blockbuster seasons, but as Scott Mendelson writes, the theatrical release wasn't really about making money: "This was about announcing that the Dave Bautista-led heist caper was a big-deal movie. That’s the importance of this release, that Netflix is using a major theatrical chain to release a movie in theaters as a way of saying, 'This Netflix original is a big friggin deal.' And yeah, having seen the film on Thursday night on a very big screen, it works as intended. I have nitpicks and complaints, but it might be Netflix’s best 'mockbuster' ever, and certainly among the few that really looks, feels and plays like the genuine article. So in terms of using theatrical to build buzz for streaming, mischief managed."
Elsewhere, IFC Midnight released the supernatural horror flick, The Djinn, into theaters, scaring up a little over $41,000 from a total of 41 domestic theaters.
Now in its third week, FUNimation’s Demon Slayer added $1.85 million to its North American sales for a total of $42 million. Disney's Raya and the Last Dragon hit $46.1 million in its eleventh frame with an additional $1.7 million. Two Warner Bros. holdovers — Godzilla vs. Kong and Mortal Kombat — rounded out their seventh and fourth weekends with $95 million and $39.9 million, respectively. Globally, Godzilla vs. Kong sits at $427.1 million, with Mortal Kombat on the verge of hitting $80 million.
Over in China, an IMAX re-release of Peter Jackson's Oscar-winning Return of the King hit $7.5 million in ticket sales.