In a scary-good box office milestone, the stomach-churning “Saw” franchise has surpassed $1 billion in worldwide ticket sales.
“Spiral,” the lastest entry in the horror series, earned another $4.5 million in North America and $2.67 million overseas this weekend. That haul pushed the property to $1,000,799,533 globally across nine films.
It’s a significant achievement because the “Saw” movies carry modest production budgets — ranging from $1 million to $20 million — making profit margins all the sweeter. Even more notable, the “Saw” films aren’t particularly well received among critics or audiences. On Rotten Tomatoes, the nine films usually generate an average around 30%, while its CinemaScore rating from moviegoers tends to range between “B” and “C” grades. However, the horror genre tends to be review-proof at the box office.
James Wan and Leigh Whannell created the “Saw” franchise, revolving around the mysterious and disturbing Jigsaw Killer, who puts his victims through deadly games to test their will to live. It kicked off with 2004’s “Saw,” which earned a massive $103 million worldwide from a $1.2 million budget. Except for 2009’s “Saw VI,” each of the “Saw” films have easily eclipsed the $100 million mark globally while keeping production budgets below $20 million. The third installment, 2016’s “Saw III,” is the highest-grossing entry with $164 million worldwide.
To date, “Spiral” — starring Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson — has amassed $15.8 million in the U.S. and $6.7 million internationally for a global haul of $22.5 million. Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures are distributing the film.
Directed by series veteran Darren Lynn Bousman, “Spiral” follows police efforts to stop a Jigsaw copycat killer. It got mixed feedback, with Variety’s Owen Gleiberman saying for better or worse, the latest chapter stays true to its sickening roots. “No,” Gleiberman wrote, “the ‘Saw’ series hasn’t really changed. So depending on whether you’re a fan or not, eat up…or throw up.”
“We congratulate our friends at Twisted Pictures and all of the filmmakers and stars who have been a part of the Saw legacy,” said David Spitz, Lionsgate’s president of domestic theatrical distribution. “Over the years, our partners have been innovative, creative, and open to new ideas as they have nurtured a micro-budget film into a billion-dollar-plus-grossing cultural phenomenon.”