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Annual 'Saw' Blood Drive Is Upon Us

August 8, 2007 -- Here's the cool new poster. Right click to download it as a gigantic JPG.

Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF), the leading independent filmed entertainment studio, and the American Red Cross, one of the nation’s largest blood collection organizations, today announced a formal partnership for the Fourth Annual SAW “Give Til It Hurts” blood drive benefiting the Red Cross. The blood drive will coincide with the Halloween premiere of the latest title in Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures’ SAW franchise, SAW IV, which opens nationwide on October 26, 2007. The announcement was made jointly by Lionsgate Co-Presidents of Theatrical Marketing Tim Palen and Sarah Greenberg and Gregory S. Ballish, Senior Vice President, Biomedical Services, American Red Cross.

“Working with Lionsgate Entertainment provides the American Red Cross an opportunity to expand its support of blood donation,” said Ballish. “On behalf of the patients we serve, we thank Lionsgate and the SAW franchise for their commitment to our blood program and look forward to a successful campaign.”

“We are honored that the American Red Cross has chosen to partner with Lionsgate on a national level to manage this year’s blood drive,” said Palen and Greenberg. “For the past three years, we have seen how eager young people are to support the Red Cross and its life-saving mission, and the SAW IV blood drive will give them more opportunities than ever.”

The SAW “Give Til It Hurts” blood drive has become a key element of the SAW franchise, as much a part of the horror hit’s annual rituals as its Halloween premiere date. Since the first SAW blood drive in 2004, SAW filmgoers have donated nearly 38,000 pints of blood to help save as many as 112,500 lives. Collection totals have doubled year after year: during the 2004 inaugural drive, 4,200 pints were collected, in 2005, 10,000 pints were collected, and in 2006, 23,493 pints were collected, resulting in tens of thousands of lifesaving blood transfusions.

Producers Mark Burg and Oren Koules of Twisted Pictures remarked, “We are very proud of the continued growth and success of the SAW blood drives and would like to thank Lionsgate for their boundless creativity and the incredibly loyal SAW fans who bleed for us, literally.”

SAW star Tobin Bell, who portrays the terrifying Jigsaw, will be featured in several PSA’s advertising the SAW IV blood drive. For the fourth year, the campaign’s graphic elements will be created by Lionsgate’s Palen, an award-winning fine art photographer whose sleek, witty images of the beautiful SAW nurses have played a major role in driving traffic to previous blood drives.

The SAW series is the most successful horror franchise of all time, with a worldwide box office of over $400 million. The most recent entry, SAW III, opened at #1 domestically on October 27, 2006, and opened at #1 in eleven additional countries, including the U.K. and Australia; it was the year’s top-grossing horror film, taking in over $80 million domestically and over $100 internationally. The DVD, released on January 23, 2007, repeated the success of its two predecessors as it debuted as the week’s #1 new home entertainment release, selling 2.5 million units in the U.S. and Canada in its first week alone. To date, combined sales of SAW, SAW II and SAW III DVDs total 13 million units.

The SAW IV blood drive will begin approximately two months before the film’s premiere and will continue through the first week of its release. Lionsgate and the American Red Cross will host blood drives on college campuses and other locations across the country, tapping into the desire among young people to give back in a tangible way.

Jigsaw and his apprentice Amanda are dead.

Now, upon the news of Detective Kerry's murder, two seasoned FBI profilers, Agent Strahm and Agent Perez, arrive in the terrified community to assist the veteran Detective Hoffman in sifting through Jigsaw's latest grizzly remains and piecing together the puzzle. However, when SWAT Commander Rigg is abducted and thrust into a game, the last officer untouched by Jigsaw has but ninety minutes to overcome a series of demented traps and save an old friend or face the deadly consequences.

SAW IV is directed by Darren Lynn Bousman. The producers are Mark Burg and Oren Koules. The film is executive produced by Daniel Jason Heffner, James Wan, Leigh Whannell, Stacey Testro, Peter Block and Jason Constantine.



Poster, Still for 'Saw IV'

July 28, 2007 -- Out of Comic Con comes more hype for "Saw IV." This time, a new poster and a still. Plus a brief storyline. Click here for a giant view of the poster and here for the still. As for the story:

Jigsaw and his apprentice Amanda are dead.

Upon the news of Detective Kerry's murder, two seasoned FBI profilers, Agent Strahm (Scott Patterson) and Agent Perez, arrive at the depleted police precinct and help veteran Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) sift through Jigsaw's latest grizzly game of victims and piece together the puzzle. However, when SWAT Commander Rigg, the last officer untouched by Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), is suddenly abducted and thrust into the madman's harrowing game, the officer has but ninety minutes to overcome a series of interconnected traps...or face the deadly consequences.

Rigg's citywide pursuit leaves a wake of dead bodies, and Detective Hoffman and the FBI uncover long hidden clues that lead them back to Jigsaw's ex-wife Jill (Betsy Russell). The genesis of Jigsaw's evil is unveiled, exposing the puppet master's true intentions and the sinister plan for his past, present and future victims.



Darren Lynn Bousman on 'Saw IV'

by Steve Biodrowski

June 21, 2007 -- Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you have to admit one thing about the SAW franchise: it has managed to avoid the pit that sucks so many horror sequels down into box office oblivion. The first SAW was a sleeper hit, considered a success because its tiny $1-million investment netted nearly $50-million at U.S. theatres; both SAW II and SAW III expanded on that number, each earning over $80-million. This trajectory is of considerable consequence with SAW IV in the can. Horror is having a rather weak year at the box office, and the recent results of films like GRINDHOUSE and HOSTEL PART II suggest that splatter appeal is no longer a guarantee of ticket sales. Despite these ill omens, SAW IV director Darren Lyn Bousman (who has been with the franchise since Part II) thinks he has nothing to worry about.

“First off, if you look at a lot of movies that went from I to II, whether it be TEXAS CHAINSAW, THE GRUDGE, whatever it is – most times, the sequels drop off,” says Bousman. “SAW II we raised. So I think we were able to show, right away, there’s something different here with the SAW films. Then with SAW III we did it again. So if I was coming back, and HOSTEL II had done what it had done, and all these films like 28 WEEKS LATER, I think I would be a lot more nervous doing SAW II if it was coming out right now. But I think we’ve proven ourselves. Does that mean that SAW V and VI aren’t going to feel it? No. But I think that SAW IV, right now, we’ve not duped the audience. It’s when we dupe the audience, as the other films have, that we have to worry. But someway we’ve [found] the loophole to sequels dropping off. So I’m not concerned about it right now.”

To what does Bousman attribute the SAW sequels box office longevity?

“I think that a couple of things make SAW continue to work. First off, we proved ourselves right away on II. II came back and it helped us with III. But there’s a lot of things people can relate to in the SAW films, and I hate to call them gimmicks, but there’s a lot of things people come to expect: the twists, the traps, the puppet, the Jigsaw soliloquy. There are al l these things that – love or hate it – you know you’re going to get when you go into a SAW film. I think that’s built in a huge fan base. Also, love or hate it, there are themes in the SAW films that a lot of horror films don’t have. There are messages. In SAW III it was about vengeance versus forgiveness. It’s not just gore for the sake of gore; there are message in there, and I think that’s really helped us. Also, I think people were really looking down on us when we released SAW II a year after SAW I. ‘How can they do it? There’s no way this is humanly possible. They’re just churning it out.’ And it worked. The same thing with III: we did it a year to the date, and it worked. So I don’t think we duped the audience yet; we haven’t jumped the shark yet. A lot of horror films jump the shark on the second or third one. I think we’ve been able to maintain credibility.”

After directing the two previous sequels Bousman was reluctant to climb on board for yet another installment.

“Did I think I was going to come back on III or IV? No, I thought III would have been the end for me, and definitely III was the end of that story. But there was always envisioned to be separate stories going on in SAW. [With] this, I just happened to take part in the beginning of the next story.”

So what pulled Bousman back into the world of the Jigsaw killer?

“What it boiled down to is two things. Unlike starting from scratching and having no idea where to go, I had been with this for two years. I knew the people involved: the crew, the cast…the production designer, the costume designer. So it wasn’t starting at square one; it was picking up where we left off. That’s exactly where we came into it. From the day that I left Toronto to when I came back was months – we’re talking a couple of months. The production offices were the same; the hotel was the same; the sound stage – everything was the same. So we came to our first meeting; it was like, ‘Where did we leave off on SAW III? Let’s begin.’ We never set where SAW IV is being filmed; it’s anywhere. But one thing we try to do is create a community. The die-hard fans will pick it out: they will see that we are in the same locations; we use the same actors.

“You look at a lot of sequels – they try to take a different route; they try to put new characters in,” Bousman continues. “Everyone [in the SAW sequels] is the same. A fun fact that not a lot of people know is that we use the same extras from year to year; we have the same SWAT Team. If you look at the nurses in the hospital scenes, everyone is the same. So it completely is a family. My favorite is there’s a police detective in SAW III that has half a line; he’s back in SAW IV saying half a line. That’s exciting for us, to bring back the exact same people. That’s why it’s not like coming back for IV; it’s like continuing III. This continuity brings credibility to the project; we’re not changing over from year to year. So definitely there’s continuity to it. If you look at the successful franchises – like LEATHAL WEAPON - those films continue to succeed because they had the same people. Whether you liked them or hated them, they did do well. The movies that fail are the ones that have completely new people come in every time and try to reinvent it.”

The second deciding factor was the new script by FEAST scribes Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton.

“Patrick and Marcus are great,” Bousman enthuses. “In between SAW II and III, I was working out of this building, and Patrick and Marcus were working a floor beneath me on one of their movies called MIDNIGHT MAN or something. I was going to my car one night and these two guys – FEAST had not come out yet – go, ‘Oh, you’re Darren! We’re huge fans of SAW.’ They gave me their phone numbers; now two years later, they’re the writers. It’s strange fate. They did a great job. The thing that’s hard about coming into a SAW film is that there are rules. Not a lot of people realize this, but we try to stay true to them. Jigsaw doesn’t lie, Number One. The traps have to be anything that can be found at Home Depot or found in the environment. We gave the writers the rules sheet; the rules sheet was a thick book. We’re like, ‘Here, just don’t fuck it up!’ They did a good job; they really did.

Dunstan and Melton wrote their first draft before Bousman came on board; in fact, reading their script is what changed Bousman’s mind about returning.

“I was adamantly against coming back,” he insists. “The first card to get me to come back was, ‘Just look at the script.’ When I first read it, I was on page 85 and I didn’t feel any way about it; I wasn’t pissed or excited, really. Until I got to page 87. When I hit page 87, it was ‘Goddamit, they got me!’ I fuckin’ have done this for the last three years, and they got me!’ That’s when I knew I had to come back. Everything before then took a whole different light to it. I’m not saying there’s a huge twist, but there’s something in the end of the movie that made it all [worthwhile]. I think the SAW films are like magic tricks. You go in there and you’re looking for the way they’re going to do it. You’re doing this, this, this, and you do the trick, and they’re like ‘Shit, we missed it,’ and they go back to see if you can see it.”

Bousman does express some concern that the quest to provide unguessable twists could lead to a formulaic rigidity that becomes predictable – like, for instance, in the films of M. Night Shyamalan.

“This is my LADY IN THE WATER!” Bousman jokes, then adds, “It’s always hard for me to call it. Is it a twist, or is it just all wrapped up in a cool little box? We did some fucked up shit this year that is exciting to me. The other thing that’s exciting is that we’ve been able to keep the SAW secret this long on IV; nobody has any idea what the plot is. There’s constant reveals that are going to be happening in the movie, because everyone thinks it’s about X when it’s really about Y and Z over here. That’s very cool.”

There have been rumors about how SAW IV would continue the story, but Bousman claims none of them are true.

“No one knows anything about IV. All of these rumors going around – no one has any clue what IV is,” he states. “We’ve taken a much different approach this year than we have in the last two films. It’s much more complicated. In fact the first time that people went out to people – it’s hard. You have to read it again and again. I’ve been watching the edit. It’s extremely easy once your visualizing it, but it’s the most complex. There’s four separate storylines going on. That’s exciting to me. It’s not just simplistic of ‘Oh, I’m torturing people; Oh, I’m dying; Oh, I’m dead!’ There’s a lot of shit going on this year.”

Eager to keep the secrets, Bousman avoids specifics. He will only say that SAW IV is “a combination of all the films. I would say it’s more I and II. I’ve killed off everybody. I had to bring in new characters. In III, there was a vested interest in those people: you knew Shawnee; you knew Tobin. Now we’re kind of bringing back some new characters this year, so you’re not going to have the emotional impact like when Shawnee and Tobin are going through this, but there definitely is much more character stuff than there ever was in II.”

Bousman reveals that the storyline will follow two new characters, named Perez and Strom. “With Jigsaw, we’ve always had cops. Again, this year they’re cops, but I didn’t want to play them as cops. We’ve seen that story, so we try to take a different spin. The cops are secondary to who they are. We try to focus on these quirky characters. We have Scott Patterson in it, from GILMOUR GIRLS. We’ve never really had people ad lib on the SAW films, because it wasn’t that kind of platform. Scott Patterson, the first day he showed up, said, ‘I’m going to do something a little different here.’ I’m like ‘All right.’ We yell action, and all of a sudden he started improvising, and it was gold. He’s insane, and it really works well for his character – which is something we haven’t seen before. There’s a whole new life to this one, which is exciting.”

Having directed Parts II through IV, Bousman is ready to move on. His next project is a rock opera called REPO that was pre-recording its song track while he was directing SAW IV. Does the director feel burned out on the genre?

“I kind of am,” he admits. “Not tired of horror. But I don’t know how much different I can get than doing a rock opera. Without doing a romantic comedy, this is as extreme a difference as I can get. This is my way to sidestep out of the horror genre. Yes, it’s still violence as fuck, but people are breaking out into song; I don’t know if people can compare it to SAW anymore.”

Still, Bousman will probably be involved, though probably not as director, in the inevitable SAW V (assuming IV doesn’t suffer the fate of HOSTEL PART II, of course).

“It’s funny. James [Wan] and Leigh [Whannell] were extremely involved in IV, although they say they’re not involved. I mean, Leigh would call all the time on set; so would James. I will definitely be involved somehow. I can bet the house and farm that I will not be directing V. I said that last year; this year, I promise I will not do V – double or nothing!”

-- Steve Biodrowski