Several Theories On Why Spiral Failed At The Box Office

In May, the Saw franchise made its grand return again with Spiral: From The Book of Saw, featuring Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson and despite the movie’s promising trailers that reminded many fans of Seven, Spiral ultimately bombed with both the critics and audiences. To date, the movie has only amassed $23.2 million domestically, which is a number that was easily eclipsed in the opening weekend by Saw II ($31 million), Saw III ($33 million), Saw IV ($31 million), and Saw V ($30 million), and Saw 3D ($24 million); So, what happened? Yes, the pandemic played a part in the disappointing box office numbers thus far; however, the revived franchise got a solid boost with Jigsaw, which only had $38 million domestically and $104 million worldwide. With horror movies like The Conjuring: The Devil Made Do It finishing off nearly $200 million worldwide and A Quiet Place Part II nearly $350 million worldwide, horror is at a pretty healthy state right now and the long-time franchise should’ve gotten a better return.

Back in 2004, Leigh Whannell and James Wan introduced the low-budget franchise and its fresh concept took off with audiences as the first film ended its run with a strong $103 million worldwide. Since then, the franchise continued to pump out movies every Halloween weekend and even though the horror film was never a winner with critics, fans loved Jigsaw and the over-the-top gory traps. However, as with every franchise, interest in the franchise dipped and the series ended with Saw 3D in 2010. Seven years later, a reboot of sorts was made, Jigsaw, which didn’t exactly blow out the box office but ended its run on a solid $104 million worldwide. Spiral had two well-known names in the film industry, a higher budget, a prime summer date that should’ve gotten the film a better box office gross; however, here’s my reasoning as to why the Spiral failed to connect at the box office:

1. People Are Tired Of The Saw Universe

As previously stated, Saw first hit the screens back in 2004, nearly 20-years ago. By now, you know about the gruesome saw traps, contrived storytelling, and some type of twist ending that gave the horror films a charm that audiences liked. However, with each passing film, the formula for a Saw movie became predictable, including the sort of reboot, Jigsaw. While the Spiral trailers were intriguing, the film didn’t differentiate itself much from the other movies in the franchise, with the signature traps not being on par with the earlier films. The Halloween franchise is seeing a nice resurgence not just because Michael Myers and Laurie Strode are at the forefront of these films, but because the movies are a fresh take on the classic film, and more importantly, Halloween is a darn good film. Despite Spiral deviating from its usual formula, the latest edition simply wasn’t a good film. Even then, audiences didn’t seem too hyped about the new movie as the once fresh and intriguing concept has gotten stale.

2. The Traps Are No Longer Fun To Watch

The traps in Spiral were…fine. The same thing can be said about the traps in Jigsaw and Saw 3D. Still, those traps didn’t come close to being memorable as the reverse bear trap, the rack, or the shotgun carousel. Every film has a trap that fans just simply shrug their shoulders at; however, it’s been noticeable how unimaginative and boring the traps have become in the Saw franchise. The bread-and-butter of the series is their traps. Yes, the traps are essentially torture porn; however, Saw is a horror movie and part of the fun in horror movies is seeing the creative ways that people die. There’s a reason that movies like A Nightmare on Elm Street or Final Destination are fondly remembered. The Saw traps in recent films just don’t have that creative juice that the earlier films did, and couple that with unlikeable characters that are usually trapped within these torture devices then it makes for a boring experience with people that you have no emotional investment in.

3. The Stories Are Just Plain Bad

As previously stated, the Saw films are not critical darlings. In fact, the highest-rated film in the series is the very first one, which is currently standing at 51% on rotten tomatoes. Like I stated before, part of the charm of this franchise is the convoluted storylines and a shocking twist at the end. However, the issues from these movies stem from the lack of character development and a cohesive story that oftentimes is too dumb for its own good. There’s rarely anyone to cheer for since the protagonists are usually horrible people stuck in a bad situation. Even then, the stories tend to be overly complicated to the point where audiences have to scratch their heads over some dumb development. The Saw franchise has never had a Laurie Strode or Sidney Prescott, meaning a likable presence that you want to root for. Chris Rock’s Detective Zeke Banks and Samuel L. Jackson’s Marcus Banks are likable characters, though they never reach the highs that both Strode and Prescott did in terms of character development. Should there be another film, the writers need to focus on telling a good and simple story, while never forgetting its horror roots. Obviously, this is easier said than done; however, there’s plenty of talented writers in the horror genre who ca craft a compelling Saw movie. Hell, perhaps it’s time that James Wan steps back in the writer and director’s chair for the franchise that helped start.

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