The movie that topped the box office last week was the eighth in the Saw franchise. Opening on the weekend before Halloween was a smart marketing strategy as fans of the gory horror series came out in force.
But don’t look for it to stay on top this weekend.
Titled “Jigsaw,” this new film arrived seven years after the seventh in the series, which was titled wait for it “Saw 3D: The Final Chapter.”
So the 2010 film wasn’t really the final chapter? Hollywood lied to us?
Shocking, I know.
Come to think of it, the killer in the series, John Kramer, aka Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), has been dead since the third Saw movie, so how does he keep coming back?
Easy. He just passes the baton and shows up on screen in flashbacks. You can’t keep a tricked-up torturer down.
When Sean Connery stepped away from the James Bond franchise — for the second time — after “Diamonds Are Forever” (1971), he was inevitably asked if fans could expect to see him renew his 007 license to kill in the future.
Connery famously declared, “Never again.”
Then, in 1983, he played Bond one more time and came up with the film’s title himself: “Never Say Never Again.”
At least he had a sense of humor about it. I’m not so sure about all the horror films that use the word “final” in their titles — without irony.
Heck, the Friday the 13th movies did it twice!
Does anyone remember the fourth Friday the 13th movie in 1984, subtitled “The Final Chapter”? It wasn’t.
And neither was the ninth Friday the 13th film: “Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday” (1993). Three more features followed.
The third Omen movie in 1981 was titled simply “The Final Conflict,” but it was followed 10 years later by a TV-movie sequel.
In 1991, the sixth A Nightmare on Elm Street picture was titled “Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare.” Three years later, another sequel followed.
“Children of the Corn II” (1992) was subtitled “The Final Sacrifice,” but then came eight more sequels.
Suddenly, a title like 2011's “Final Destination 5” begins to make sense.
And in some cases, the titles of follow-up films attempted to get creative, if not explanatory, on how a sequel could follow a “final.”
After “Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter,” the next one was “Friday the 13th: A New Beginning.” And the Omen film that followed “The Final Conflict” was “Omen IV: The Awakening.” (My vote would have been for “Friday the 13th: Just Kidding” and “Omen IV: Really? You Fell for That?”)
And after “Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare,” the next one was titled “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare” (1994). That one was a sort of self-referential spoof, but it didn’t stop the series’ momentum — as another sequel and a reboot followed.
And outside of the horror genre, how about “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989) and “X-Men: The Last Stand” (2006)? Those weren’t the last.
Maybe franchise films with “final” in the title should be required to add the word “allegedly.”
Hey, it’s the movies, where “truth in advertising” is an oxymoron.
Of course, it’s not just the movies. It’s also TV advertising. And political advertising. And product advertising.
OK, it’s just advertising.
But the point is, when you see a movie title with the word “final” — or “last” or “never” or “no more” or “we mean it, honest, this is the end of the series” — it actually means “ until next time.”
This year alone we’ve had “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter,” “Transformers: The Last Knight” and on Dec. 15, we’ll see “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”
Next, you’ll be telling me that Superman really did die in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and won’t be showing up in the “Justice League” movie on Nov. 17.