Here’s the big secret about box office reporting, none of us are “experts”. In fact, many sites just copy what’s already been reported as “fact”, without any actual understanding of how it all works. The problem with box office reporting is that there are many factors that decide if a film is a success or not. We should be asking as to whether or not the studio owns the property or are they just acting as the distributor? What percentage gross does the distributor get? What did they spend on P+A (marketing)? There’s quite a bit more that factor into the secret numbers behind a film, which makes it nearly impossible to be precise.
While we can never be accurate, it’s possible to guesstimate and thus celebrate when a film is a success or criticize a flop. Horror is the perfect example, at least in 2017. The budget for modest films (i.e. Split, Get Out, Annabelle: Creation) makes it easy to say, “Holy shit, this movie was a huge success.” Still, there are those that don’t understand the box office and report with authority, with their disastrous “take” spreading like wildfire (an example would be various sites reporting that IT is the biggest horror film of all time – it’s not). I say this because I’ve seen various reports declaring Lionsgate’s Jigsaw a flop/failure, which is ridiculous. In fact, it’s doing so well that it’s proving once and for all that horror is quite literally unstoppable in 2017.
Here’s evidence of biased reporting: many sites are lauding Universal Pictures’ and Blumhouse’s Happy Death Day as a huge success. The film, released on October 13th, is at $88M worldwide on a mere $5M budget. That’s awesome. Now, let’s look at Lionsgate’s eighth Saw film, Jigsaw, which is now at $79M worldwide! Made at a modest budget of $10M, it’s only in its second week of a release and nearing that of Happy Death Day. So, why is one a “booming hit” and the other a “failure”? One reason could be perception, with various articles pointing out that Jigsaw isn’t as successful as its predecessors. Who cares? No, really, why does that matter?
Without knowing the actual spend on budget and marketing, nor the box office take for the studio, Lionsgate at the very least is looking at a $20M surplus. That’s incredible for the eighth film in a franchise (that was previously deemed “dead”) and also should be a lesson for New Line Cinema if they were to ever move forward on a new A Nightmare On Elm Street or Friday the 13th.
My point? We should stop nitpicking and celebrate yet another horror film succeeding in theaters as opposed to calling it a failure because it didn’t make as much as a former sequel from way back in 2010. While not making waves like some of the aforementioned films, Jigsaw still deserves some love, especially because it furthers the delicious narrative that horror owns 2017.