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your box office explained

Your Box Office Explained: Saw 3D Takes Biggest Cut

This Weekend’s Winners: The horror, the horror: Lionsgate’s Saw 3D carved out a little more than $24 million, according to estimates, while the prequel to Paranormal Activity scared up $16 million in its second weekend.

Honorable mention: Though we may be accused of having a Port-a-Pottymouth, we must take a moment to formally scream, “Holy $#!*” and declare Johnny Knoxville a Genuine Movie Star. Never mind the 3-D surcharges that helped get it there, or that it dropped 60 percent this weekend — in only its third week in release, Jackass 3D has crossed the $100 million mark in domestic grosses. That’s miles ahead of recent efforts from supposed capital "M," capital "S" movie stars like Ben Affleck (The Town), Matt Damon (Hereafter), Hillary Swank (Conviction), and Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman (Red).

How It All Went Down: Last year, the consumer price index rose just 2.7 percent, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; the average price of a movie ticket, however, shot up a whopping 8 percent just in the first quarter of 2010 alone. Let’s pause and let that really wash over you: In just three months, movie tickets shot up twice as much as they usually do in an entire year.

But even after you do the geeky math on Saw 3D, you quickly see that while the greediness of 3D theater owners certainly helped, its grosses aren’t some soufflé artificially inflated by ticket surcharges. Last year's Saw VI opened to $14.1 million; at roughly $10 million more in ticket sales, Saw 3D’s $24 million opening is a reminder that while audiences usually regard the third dimension as a gimmicky poke-in-the-eye, they don't mind as much if someone actually gets poked in the eye.

Meanwhile, in specialty film, astonishing results from beyond the grave from Stieg Larrson. The Swedish-language The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest — starring Hollywood’s most sought-after Mohawked Swede Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander — unfurled against a little over 150 screens this weekend, and made just shy of a million bucks. Not as impressive as the first two Larrson adaptations, which made more on fewer screens, but still buzz-worthy.

(And with Red, Secretariat, and The Social Network losing barely a third of their audiences this weekend, we have to wonder: Why are films for grown-ups doing so well? A quick look at the box-office history shows that just five years ago, there were 40 percent more films in release. As a result, film cannibalism is down. Clearly Wall Street's horror show has a silver lining for Holywood — and us.)

Finally, Kristen Stewart’s venture outside of the Twilight vampire franchise found little purchase. After its original distributor, Apparition, actually became one and gave up the ghost, Stewart’s psycho-sexual drama Welcome to the Rileys was finally released on just 10 screens in New York, Los Angeles, and Boston this Halloween weekend. But despite being reincarnated at Samuel Goldwyn Films, it never quite came back to life, and grossed only $45,000.

Photo: Lionsgate