'Saw 3D' Rakes in $1.7 Mil in Midnight Screenings

Seventh installment of Lionsgate slasher franchise expected to make more than $20 million through Sunday.

Lionsgate’s Saw 3D sliced its way into multiplexes with an estimated $1.7 million in domestic boxoffice from movie theaters offering midnight-Thursday performances of the horror pic.

The seventh and final installment in the minimajor’s long-running slasher franchise -- and the first Saw pic offered in 3D -- is expected to ring up more than $20 million through Sunday. More than 2,100 of its total 2,808 locations are playing the movie in 3D, and most venues offered witching-hour performances.

Though not huge, the midnight money for Saw 3D will help shape a Friday tally that’s likely to be its biggest daily total during the pic’s first frame. There also are signs of solid grosses from Friday matinees on the East Coast.

Saw 3D cost less than $20 million to produce. That’s still the most splashed out on a Saw pic to date and includes some extra costs resulting from the movie being shot in 3D.

The R-rated pic is this weekend’s sole wide opener. Rival distributors sought to avoid an overlap with the popular horror franchise but also wanted to sidestep Halloween this Sunday, when many prospective moviegoers will be preoccupied with trick-or-treating and other holiday activities.

Each Saw picture since the 2004 original has unspooled in late October. The first pic also opened during a Halloween weekend in which the holiday fell on a Sunday.

Saw VI unspooled Oct. 23, 2009 with a disappointing $14.1 million and rang up $27.9 million overall domestically.