Box Office: ‘PAW Patrol’ and ‘Saw X’ to Battle for No. 1 in Crowded Weekend

Paramount’s animated “PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie” looks to rule the box office in a weekend that’s packed with new releases. Three other movies, Lionsgate’s gruesome “Saw X,” Disney and New Regency’s sci-fi thriller “The Creator” and Sony’s Game Stop stock-inspired “Dumb Money,” will open nationwide and attempt to break through during a crowded weekend.

According to estimates, “PAW Patrol” is aiming to lead with $18 million to $20 million, but it may be a close race against “Saw X” for first place on box office charts. The 10th Jigsaw slasher movie is targeting $15 million to $18 million, though some projections expect initial ticket sales to hit $20 million to $25 million. “The Creator,” starring John David Washington and Gemma Chan, won’t be far behind with estimates of $16 million to $19 million in its debut. Meanwhile, “Dumb Money” is predicted to earn a soft $5 million to $8 million as it expands to 2,750 theaters following two weeks in limited release.

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The onslaught of new offerings are closing out a bleak September at the box office; the past two weekends were among the lowest-grossing of the year. Studios are hoping these films won’t cannibalize each other because they’re appealing to vastly different crowds.

“A diverse slate of new films from the categories of horror, family and sci-fi, plus the expansion of ‘Dumb Money’ should create a situation where each of these films can find their target audience,” says Paul Dergarabedian, a senior Comscore analyst.

“PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie” is the sequel to 2021’s inventively named “PAW Patrol: The Movie,” which opened to $13 million (while landing simultaneously on Paramount+) and topped out with $40 million in North America and $144 million globally. The follow-up film, also produced by Spin Master Entertainment, cost $30 million and opens day-and-date in 43 international markets, including Germany, Mexico and Italy. Beyond box office ticket sales, the “PAW Patrol” movie is a huge driver of consumer products. Since 2014, the franchise has earned $14 billion in global retail sales.

The latest “PAW Patrol” adventure, based on the popular Nickelodeon kids TV show and featuring a voice cast that includes but is not limited to Kim Kardashian and her children, North and Saint West, follows the Mighty Pups’ quest to save the world after a magical meteor crash-lands in Adventure City. Variety’s Courtney Howard positively reviewed the film, writing “while not as subversive as its predecessor, it delivers on the promise of a smart and salient sequel with bolder action, bigger stakes, and deeper resonance for all ages.”

Like “PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie,” the stomach-churning “Saw X” is heading toward a bigger debut than its predecessors — 2021’s spinoff “Spiral” ($8.7 million debut) and 2017’s “Jigsaw” ($16.6 million debut). The biggest opening weekend of the series, about terrifying serial killer named Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), who puts his victims through deadly games that test their wills to live, belongs to 2006’s “Saw III” with $33 million. However, “Saw X” cost $13 million and doesn’t need to reach those inaugural heights to be considered a success. Horror is mostly a safe bet at the box office, and the modestly budgeted “Saw” franchise has remained a big screen draw for nearly 20 years, with the nine films collectively surpassing $1 billion in worldwide ticket sales.

“The Creator” is far more expensive than the other new releases, with a production budget of $80 million. The well-reviewed movie, directed by Gareth Edwards and set against the backdrop of a war between humans and robots with artificial intelligence, is expected to enjoy a bigger turnout overseas. It’s projected to collect at least $20 million in its international box office debut, where it’s opening in most major markets except China, Japan and Korea.

Rounding out the weekend, a tepid, single-digit start for “Dumb Money” indicates that even critically acclaimed movies are still struggling to bring in big crowds. It doesn’t help that the cast of famous faces, including Seth Rogen, Paul Dano, Pete Davidson and America Ferrera, aren’t allowed to promote the movie during the current SAG-AFTRA strike. After a quiet run in limited release, the R-rated “Dumb Money” has earned $2.98 million at the domestic box office. It’s unlikely that this surreal and uniquely American story will strongly resonate at the international box office, so North American moviegoers will be key in getting the $30 million-budgeted film into the black.

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