Weekend Forecast: Saw 3D Bleeds Cash, Kristen Stewart Steps on Hornet's Nest

Halloween weekend is upon us, which can only mean one thing: The Jigsaw Killer is back with a chamber full of traps and a suitcase stuffed with willing moviegoers' cash. Make that willing 3-D moviegoers' cash, which you can expect to boost the splattery franchise swan song over Paranormal Activity for the weekend's top prize. But things are not as clear elsewhere...

NATIONAL FORECAST

· Saw 3D: With a backlog of big fall films to catch up on and a glut of new movies at the art house, this week's only wide release is really the only one it needs. But the once-redoubtable horror franchise has seen a downturn in fortune since Paranormal Activity came along, with last year's sixth entry opening to only $14 million -- roughly half its previous average debut. This year should be a little better: Lionsgate is selling the series finale, and the 3-D will shore up some of the gross. Paranormal Activity 2 will still leave a dent despite its drop of around 60 percent, but expect Jigsaw to go out on top. At least until he comes back, which you can count on if this thing can nudge past $30 million. It'll be close. FORECAST: $28.9 million (Movieline's full review forthcoming later today.)

jolene_250.jpgTHE PRIME DESTINATION

I couldn't agree more with Michelle Orange's estimation of Jolene, which ultimately amounts to an overlong, vaguely undisciplined, sporadically trite and obvious bit of road-trip coming-of-age adapted from E.L. Doctorow's story. But it has one of the year's most affecting performances going for it as well: In her screen debut, Jessica Chastain inhabits the title character's 10-year journey like an old pro, making the most of director Dan Ireland's leisurely pace and a giving ensemble including Dermot Mulroney, Rupert Friend, Chazz Palminteri, Frances Fisher and Michael Vartan. Beautifully shot, it looks and feels like a sprawling showcase for the last gem in a retiring jeweler's store -- one everyone wants, too, including directors Terrence Malick and John Madden, who've featured Chastain in forthcoming films of their own. She's worth it. (Opening limited in NYC, hopefully expanding into other markets soon.)

REGIONAL OUTLOOK

In a word: Busy! The key indie releases this week also basically involve ingenues in various forms trouble: Kristen Stewart stars as a teen runaway-turned-stripper and prostitute in Welcome to the Rileys, which co-stars James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo as the struggling married couple with whose lives the young woman's own intersects in New Orleans. Meanwhile, speaking of franchise endings, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest ends Stieg Larsson's seemingly interminable Millennium Trilogy, with Noomi Rapace punking it up one last time as computer-hacking heroine Lisbeth Salander. Only three or four more years until David Fincher winds down his English-language adaptation with Rooney Mara, so... yeah. Obsessives only, at this point, I think.

The stimulating Amer, meanwhile, offers up a giallo homage from Belgium of all places; Stephanie Zacharek dug it, so consider this a theatrical alternative if you can't bear the thought of franchisegoing this weekend. Another is Monsters, director Gareth Andrews' iffy though impressive aliens-on-a-shoestring effort. Either will get through Halloween with your dignity and your wallet intact. (And don't forget our Halloween 25 for home-viewing alternatives, also.) Enjoy!



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