Projection Booth: ‘Saw III’ Will Leave All Others A Bloody Mess

Will it gross $25 or $35 million? Our esteemed panel — including Eli Roth — weighs in.

The adults had their fun with high-minded entertainment dominating the box office last weekend in the form of the top three grossing films: “The Prestige,” “The Departed” and “Flags of Our Fathers.” But all of that is about to change, because nothing lays waste to all the competition on Halloween weekend like a “Saw” movie.

For the last two years, the “Saw” franchise has been a surprise moneymaker on this very weekend. It would take a miracle (kind of like Cary Elwes winning an Oscar for the first “Saw”) to see that pattern end this time around.

The only thing working against the juggernaut that is “Saw III”? Maybe EHF. That’s extreme horror fatigue (don’t bother looking it up — we just made it up). The truth is October has been nearly wall-to-wall horror with high-profile sequels “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” and “The Grudge 2.” So the real question is: Will audiences steel themselves for one more blood fest? As Jigsaw might say, “Oh yes, there will be blood.” It’s just a matter of how much blood … or dollars.

The first “Saw” came out of nowhere to pull in $18.3 million in its debut weekend. Then last year “Saw II” knocked the old adage of diminishing returns for sequels for a loop, grabbing an awesome $31.7 million. This year’s entry is clearly hoping to continue the bigger and better box-office trend.

Last week’s #1 flick, “The Prestige,” will try to build on decent word of mouth and a few surprise revelations. “The Sixth Sense” it’s not, but it might have some legs if a “don’t spoil the secrets” kind of campaign develops.

Meanwhile, if its impressive performance in the first three weeks of release is to be believed, expect to see Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed” continue to hold strong and maintain a presence in the top five — maybe even holding its #2 spot on the list.

As for other new contenders for the top spot, it seems everyone else has cleared a path for “Saw III.” The South Africa-set drama “Catch a Fire” opens on 1,300-plus screens and “Running With Scissors” expands from its limited opening last week. Neither poses a legitimate threat to Jigsaw and company.

The Predictions: Our esteemed panel of movie watchers and assorted guests will weigh in week in and week out with their brave predictions. Check back on Monday to see who has to wipe the egg off their face.

What Will Be the #1 Flick? And How Much Will It Rake In?
Larry Carroll, MTV News writer: “Saw III” ($26 million)
“Every studio in Hollywood is terrified — of putting another flick up against ‘Saw III.’ Jigsaw’s still going strong, and this is the bloodiest movie yet. I’m gonna say that it’ll scare up $26 million in bloody bucks.”

Josh Horowitz, MTV Movies editor: “Saw III” ($25 million)
“This movie being the #1 flick at the box office is as inevitable as the sequel already in development. I was done when Danny Glover checked out, but everyone else still seems to care.”

Eli Roth, director of the “Hostel” series: “Saw III” ($35 million)
“I’m predicting $35 million. It’s bold, but that’s what I’m predicting. What that means, if it’s ‘Saw III,’ is that it’s already made over triple its budget, and it also means that millions of people saw the trailer for ‘Hostel II,’ which is awesome.”

Check out everything we’ve got on “Saw III”, “The Prestige”, “The Departed”, “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Running With Scissors”.

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