Official franchise logo
|Created by||James Wan|
|Original work||Saw (2003)|
|Films and television|
|Theme park ride(s)|
Saw is an American horror franchise distributed by Lionsgate Films, produced by Twisted Pictures, and created by James Wan and Leigh Whannell, that consists of eight feature films and additional media.
In 2003, Wan and Whannell made a short film to help pitch a potential feature film concept. Their pitch was ultimately successful, and in 2004, the first installment of what would become the feature film franchise debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. The film was released theatrically that October. The sequels were directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, David Hackl, and Kevin Greutert, and were written by Wan, Whannell, Bousman, Patrick Melton, and Marcus Dunstan, and were released subsequently every October, on the Friday before Halloween, between 2004 and 2010. Both of the creators remained with the franchise as executive producers.
On July 22, 2010, producer Mark Burg confirmed that the seventh film, Saw 3D, is the final installment of the series. In 2012, Lionsgate reportedly expressed interest in continuing the franchise with a reboot. In November 2013, it was reported that they were actively developing a sequel. An eighth film, Jigsaw, was eventually released in October 2017. In 2019, a ninth film was announced, The Organ Donor, with comedian and actor Chris Rock attached to star, produce, and co-write.
The franchise primarily revolves around John Kramer, also called the "Jigsaw Killer" or simply "Jigsaw". He was introduced briefly in Saw and developed in more detail in Saw II and the subsequent films. Rather than killing his victims outright, Jigsaw traps them in situations that he calls "tests" or "games" to test their will to live through physical or psychological torture and believes that if they survive, they will be "rehabilitated". Despite the fact that John was murdered in Saw III, the films continue to focus on the posthumous influence of the Jigsaw Killer and his apprentices by exploring his character via flashbacks.
The franchise grossed more than $1 billion from box office and retail sales by 2009, and the films have collectively grossed over $976 million at the worldwide box office as of 2018. The film series as a whole has received mostly mixed to negative reviews by critics, but has been a financial success at the box office and is one of the highest-grossing horror film franchises of all time. While the films have been classified as torture porn by some critics, the creators of Saw disagree with that term.
|Film||U.S. release date||Director(s)||Screenwriter(s)||Story by||Producer(s)|
|Saw||October 29, 2004||James Wan||Leigh Whannell||James Wan & Leigh Whannell||Gregg Hoffman, Oren Koules & Mark Burg|
|Saw II||October 28, 2005||Darren Lynn Bousman||Leigh Whannell & Darren Lynn Bousman|
|Saw III||October 27, 2006||Leigh Whannell||James Wan & Leigh Whannell||Oren Koules & Mark Burg|
|Saw IV||October 26, 2007||Patrick Melton & Marcus Dunstan||Thomas Fenton, Patrick Melton & Marcus Dunstan|
|Saw V||October 24, 2008||David Hackl||Patrick Melton & Marcus Dunstan|
|Saw VI||October 23, 2009||Kevin Greutert|
|Saw 3D||October 29, 2010|
|Jigsaw||October 27, 2017||Peter & Michael Spierig||Josh Stolberg & Peter Goldfinger|
|The Organ Donor||May 15, 2020||Darren Lynn Bousman||Josh Stolberg & Peter Goldfinger||Chris Rock|
In May 2019, it was confirmed that a ninth film in the series was in production. Former series director Darren Lynn Bousman will return to helm the film. Comedian and actor Chris Rock will star in the film and will also be involved as an executive producer, in addition to writing the story treatment. Rock stated "I've been a fan of Saw since the first film in 2004. I am excited by the opportunity to take this to a really intense and twisted new place". Jigsaw writers Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger are returning to write the screenplay. Stolberg later clarified that ninth installment will exist in the same continuity of the previous films, though it will not be a direct sequel to Jigsaw.
Saw, retrospectively referred to as Saw 0.5, is a 2003 short film that served as a promotional tool in pitching the film's potential to Lionsgate, included on the second disc of the uncut DVD release of Saw, released by itself, and on the Saw Trilogy DVD containing Saw Uncut Edition, Saw II Special Edition, and Saw III Director's Cut, packaged with a limited-edition 3D puppet head box version of Billy the Puppet.
Cast and crew
- A dark grey cell indicates the character was not in the film.
|Saw||Saw II||Saw III||Saw IV||Saw V||Saw VI||Saw 3D||Jigsaw||The Organ Donor|
|Cinematographer||David A. Armstrong||Brian Gedge||Ben Nott||Jordan Oram|
|Editor(s)||Kevin Greutert||Kevin Greutert and Brett Sullivan||Kevin Greutert||Andrew Coutts||Kevin Greutert||Dev Singh|
|Running time||102 minutes||92 minutes||108 minutes||92 minutes||92 minutes||90 minutes||90 minutes||92 minutes||TBA|
Flashbacks from Saw IV reveal the roots of the series, presenting John Kramer as a successful civil engineer and devoted husband to his wife Jill Tuck, who opened a rehab clinic for drug addicts. Jill lost her unborn baby, Gideon, due to the unwitting actions of a drug addict named Cecil, who fled the scene. Saw VI later showed that another drug addict, Amanda Young, also had an unintentional role in the death of Gideon. John grieved over the loss of his child and distanced himself from his friends and his wife.
John and Jill eventually drifted apart and divorced. After this turn of events, John found himself trapped by his own complacency until he was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. Extremely bitter over his squandered life and the loss of his unborn son, John began observing the lives of others and became even more depressed as he saw those around him squandering the gift of life that he had just been denied. John went to a man named William Easton to get money for a cancer treatment, but was denied. Flashbacks from Saw II show that, after surviving a suicide attempt where he drove his car off a cliff, John was "reborn", and nurtured the idea that the only way for someone to change is for them to change themselves. Then, in Saw IV flashbacks, he designed the first trap and test for Cecil and decided to use the rest of his existence to design more of these "tests" or "games" as a form of "instant rehabilitation" that would change the world, "one person at a time". John was soon given the name "The Jigsaw Killer" (or "Jigsaw"), because he removed a puzzle-piece-shaped chunk of flesh from those who did not escape his traps. John stated that this name was given to him by the media, and that the cut piece of flesh was meant to represent that these victims were each missing something—what he called the "survival instinct".
Few of Jigsaw's victims can survive his brutal mechanical traps, which are often ironically symbolic representations of the problems in the victim's life and require them to undergo severe physical and psychological torture to escape.
In Saw V, police lieutenant Mark Hoffman's ties with John are revealed in a series of flashbacks during the film. Hoffman's sister is murdered by her boyfriend, Seth Baxter. Seth is arrested; however, a technicality allowed him to be released, and Hoffman, feeling Seth had not served the full capacity of his sentence, kills him in an inescapable trap designed to look like one of Jigsaw's, laying the blame on him. Jigsaw then kidnaps Hoffman and blackmails him into becoming his apprentice in his "rehabilitation" methods, though eventually Hoffman would become a willing apprentice, helping set up John's tests from almost the beginning, starting with Paul's trap.
The first surviving victim, Amanda Young, views Jigsaw as a hero who ultimately changed her life for the better. Amanda, upon Jigsaw's request, agrees to become his protégée. After Amanda survives, John shows Jill her rehabilitation, and Jill then becomes knowledgeable of John's traps and becomes somewhat of an accomplice as well.
In Saw, Jigsaw has chained the man who diagnosed his cancer, Dr. Lawrence Gordon, in a dilapidated industrial washroom with Adam Stanheight, a photographer who has been tailing the doctor due to belief he is cheating on his wife. Lawrence has instructions to kill Adam by six o'clock, or else his wife and daughter will be killed. Flashbacks show detectives David Tapp and Steven Sing, who suspect Lawrence of being Jigsaw, following a trail of clues from other Jigsaw traps. Sing's death from a shotgun trap after saving a victim named Jeff causes Tapp to obsess over catching Jigsaw. Later on, he chases Zep Hindle, who monitors Adam and Lawrence's tests, and gets shot in the chest. Eventually, Lawrence saws off his own foot in order to escape, leaving Adam in the bathroom while Lawrence goes to try to save his family and get help for Adam. It is later seen in Saw 3D that Lawrence found a steaming hot pipe and cauterized his wound, stopping the bleeding and ultimately surviving the trap. John catches up with Lawrence and makes him his next apprentice, a fact which he hides from his other accomplices. Flashbacks from Saw III show that Amanda kidnapped Adam and later returned to suffocate him as an act of "mercy killing".
Saw II begins with the police tracking a severely weakened Jigsaw to his lair. However, another test is in place, as he and Amanda have kidnapped the son of Detective Eric Matthews and trapped him and a group of seven convicts, previously framed by Eric, in a house that is slowly being filled with sarin gas, with Amanda Young among them. He will trade Daniel Matthews' life for Eric's time, conversing with him until the game is concluded. Eric loses his patience and assaults Jigsaw, forcing him to take him to the house, only to discover that the video feed from inside the house had been pre-recorded, the events actually taking place much earlier; Eric's son was locked in a safe in Jigsaw's warehouse, being kept alive with an oxygen tank. Eric is knocked unconscious by a masked figure and wakes up imprisoned in the bathroom from Saw, which is part of the foundation of the house. Amanda reveals herself to Eric as Jigsaw's protégée before leaving him to die. In a flashback from Saw III, Eric manages to escape the bathroom by breaking his foot. He confronts and beats Amanda, demanding to know where his son is. Amanda fights him off and leaves him for dead. A flashback from Saw IV shows Hoffman later dragging Eric to a prison cell, keeping him alive for a future game.
The events of Saw III and Saw IV occur concurrently. Saw III begins with Jigsaw, weakened and near death, confined to a makeshift hospital bed. Amanda has taken over his work, designing traps of her own; however, these traps are inescapable, as Amanda is convinced that Jigsaw's traps have no effect and that people don't change. A kidnapped doctor is forced to keep Jigsaw alive while another test is performed on Jeff, a man obsessed with vengeance against the drunk driver who killed his son. Jigsaw, unwilling to allow a murderer to continue his legacy, designs a test for Amanda as well; she ultimately fails, and it results in the deaths of both Jigsaw and Amanda. Saw IV, meanwhile, revolves around tests meant for Officer Daniel Rigg, which are overseen by Hoffman. Rigg fails his test, resulting in the death of Eric Matthews. Rigg is left to bleed to death by Hoffman, who later discovers the bodies of Jigsaw and Amanda. When an autopsy is performed on Jigsaw, a cassette tape coated in wax is found in his stomach; the tape informs Hoffman that he is wrong to think that it is all over just because Jigsaw is dead, and he should not expect to go untested.
The events of Saw V show one of Hoffman's first solo tests, five people connected by different roles in a disastrous fire that killed several others are put into four interconnected tests of teamwork, killing off one person in each trap. The two remaining test subjects realize at the final trap that each previous trap was meant to be completed by each of the five people doing a small part, rather than killing one person per trap. With this knowledge, the two work together and barely manage to escape. They are found alive by Special Agent Erikson. Meanwhile, Hoffman has set up FBI Agent Peter Strahm to appear to be Jigsaw's accomplice, while Strahm pursues Hoffman and is eventually killed due to his inability to follow Hoffman's rules, leaving Hoffman free to continue Jigsaw's "work".
Saw VI begins with Hoffman setting up a game as per John's instructions left in a box for Jill during Saw V. This game centers on insurance executive named William Easton who oversees a team responsible for rejecting two-thirds of all insurance claims. As William progresses through four tests, he saves as many people as he can and learns the error of his choice to reject so many policies, which inherently "kill" the rejected. His last test is revealed to be a test of forgiveness by the family of Harold Abbott, a man to whom William rejected a policy in the past, whose son ultimately chooses to kill William using hydrofluoric acid. Meanwhile, Agent Erickson and the-previously-thought-to-be-dead agent Lindsey Perez search for Agent Strahm with the assistance of Hoffman. Upon finding irregularities in previous murder scenes, Perez and Erickson discover Hoffman's identity, but are killed by him before they can go public with his involvement. Hoffman travels back to the site of William's tests in which Jill attacks him to obey John's final request. She leaves Hoffman in a new Reverse Beartrap left behind by John, though does not leave a key for him to free himself. He is able to manipulate the trap and escapes wounded.
Saw 3D picks up with Jill and Hoffman battling for control of Jigsaw's legacy. As Jill enters protective custody and makes Hoffman's true identity public, Hoffman sets up a new game involving skinheads to find a way to Jill. Meanwhile, Bobby Dagen, a fraud who has written a book about escaping a Jigsaw trap he never experienced, is captured and forced to confront people who knew that he lied about being in a trap. Three of Dagen's friends die and his test concludes with him being forced to reenact the trap that he claimed to have survived before. He fails, which results in the death of his wife. Meanwhile, Hoffman has posed as a corpse and killed several officers to infiltrate the police station. He finds and kills Jill using the Reverse Beartrap. Hoffman attempts to leave town but is captured by Lawrence Gordon and his accomplices, then placed in the bathroom from the first film. Jigsaw is revealed to have aided Lawrence after his game and, in return, Lawrence helped him with subsequent traps. Hoffman is then left shackled in the bathroom to die.
Jigsaw begins with a new game presumably being conducted 10 years after the events of John Kramer's death in Saw III. Five people are forced to undergo a series of tests in an abandoned barn, led by John. In the first test, one of the subjects is seemingly killed by buzzsaws after remaining unconscious during instruction. Most of the remaining subjects are killed throughout the game, until only two, Anna and the heavily wounded Ryan, are left. The two of them are drugged and wake up chained on opposite sides of a room. John is revealed to be in the room with them, and he provides them with a shotgun, explaining it is the "key to their freedom", before leaving them to escape. Anna attempts to kill Ryan with the shotgun, but the weapon was rigged to backfire, killing her and leaving Ryan to die. Meanwhile, police forces led by Detective Halloran and aided by medical forensic scientists Logan Nelson and Eleanor Bonneville attempt to discover the location and participants in the game, while also struggling to understand how the deceased John could be behind it all. Logan and Eleanor find the location of the game at an abandoned barn owned by Jill Tuck, with Halloran pursuing them, believing they are behind the most recent games. Eleanor is shown escaping, and Logan and Halloran are placed in a room with collars lined with laser cutters around their neck. They are told by John that they must confess their sins to survive. Logan is presumably killed after admitting his error delayed John's diagnosis. Halloran then confesses he let various guilty convicts walk free, deactivating his collar. However, Logan rises from the ground, revealing his collar was harmless. He explains that the game in the barn was the very first game that took place ten years earlier, and that the bodies found by the team were criminals that Halloran let walk free, who Logan placed into an identical game of his own. He reveals he was the participant in the first game who was presumably killed by the buzzsaws, but that John did not believe Logan should die simply because his "crime" was merely an accident, and rescued him as a result. John took Logan under his wing, and Logan aided John in all the various traps throughout the series, making him John's very first apprentice. Logan reactivates Halloran's collar, slicing his head open, before slamming the door shut.
Billy is a puppet resembling a ventriloquist's dummy, sometimes seen riding a tricycle, that has appeared throughout the films and has become a type of mascot for the series. It is used by the Jigsaw Killer to communicate with his victims by delivering televised messages or occasionally in person to describe details of the sadistic traps and the means by which the victims could survive. Viewers have sometimes incorrectly identified the puppet itself as Jigsaw, because of its presence and connection to the killer.
Age and use of the puppet over the course of the films necessitated its reconstruction. According to Wan, the original puppet's face for Saw involved clay, papier-mâché, and black ping-pong balls with the irises painted in for the eyes, but in later films more sophisticated construction included waterjet-cut foam for the body and remote-controlled animatronics.
The endurance and popularity of the franchise has resulted in the production of Billy merchandise, as well as references in other media and its use in promotions for the films.
"Hello Zepp" is a piece of instrumental music that was originally composed by Charlie Clouser for the first film in the series. In Saw, the implied villain, Zep Hindle, is revealed to actually be a victim of the Jigsaw Killer. (The character's name in the script is spelled "Zep", whereas the music titles are spelled "Zepp".) As the series continued, the piece was reused in every film as a leitmotif, often being renamed and remixed to accommodate the changing situations and characters. The music was used in every Saw ending, usually during the revealing of plot revelations and twists which Saw films often use and it serves as the main theme tune for the whole films.
An important component of each film is the variety of (usually mechanical in form) traps Jigsaw and his apprentices use on their captives to communicate his message.
According to David Hackl, all of the traps are real objects, and not CGI. They were designed to look horrific but ultimately be safe for the actors in them. Writer Marcus Dunstan said: "It's built to function there on the day", and added: "It works. So if there's a scalping chair—there really was a chair with working gears to grind and pull your scalp back." The most potentially dangerous item was a "water box" used in Saw V, in which one of the actors (Scott Patterson, as Peter Strahm) had to keep his head submerged as long as possible. Another element of the traps is that Hackl desired a specific look of rust and menace, but he also wanted them to have a type of beauty about them.
Box office performance
Saw grossed $18.2 million its opening weekend and had become Lionsgate's second-best opening, after Fahrenheit 9/11's $23.9 million (2004). Saw went on to gross $103 million worldwide, and is the second-lowest-grossing film in the series after Saw VI. At the time, it became the most profitable horror film after Scream (1996). It is the seventh-highest-grossing Halloween opening weekend. Saw II opened at number one with $31.7 million, and set a Lionsgate Halloween opening weekend record and is also the third-highest-grossing Halloween opener. It became at the time, the widest release in Lionsgate history and one of the best opening weekends for a horror sequel. It is Lionsgate's fourth-highest-grossing film in the United States and Canada. Saw III placed first by grossing $33.6 million its opening weekend, making it the biggest Halloween debut ever and at the time, Lionsgate's highest-opening weekend. It is the highest-grossing film in the series worldwide. It has the highest-grossing weekend in the series and also Lionsgate's fifth-highest-grossing film in the United States and Canada.
Saw IV premiered at number one with $32.1 million making it the second-best Halloween weekend opener. In Saw V's opening weekend it placed second, being beat by High School Musical 3: Senior Year, and made $30.1 million. It is Lionsgate's tenth-highest-grossing film. Saw VI opened in second place behind Paranormal Activity to $14.1 million, which is the lowest of all the Saw films worldwide. It is also the lowest-grossing film in the series. Saw 3D placed first grossing $22.5 million its opening weekend, with 92% of tickets coming from more than 2,100 3D-equipped locations. It had the fifth-best opening weekend in the Saw series. It is the most successful film in the franchise since Saw IV.
The Saw series, when compared to the other high-grossing American horror franchises—A Nightmare on Elm Street, Child's Play, Friday the 13th, Halloween, the Hannibal Lecter series, Psycho, Jaws, Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Candyman, Final Destination, The Purge, The Omen, Hellraiser, Alien vs. Predator, Paranormal Activity, The Conjuring, The Exorcist, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre—with figures adjusted for 2011 inflation, is the fifth-highest-grossing horror franchise in the United States and Canada at $457.4 million. This list is topped by Friday the 13th at $687.1 million, followed by the Nightmare on Elm Street series with $592.8 million, with the Hannibal Lecter film series closely behind with $588.7 million. Then comes Halloween with $557.5 million, the Scream series with $442.9 million and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre with $304.6 million, and lastly comes the Child's Play film series with approximately $203 million.
The box office numbers, unadjusted for inflation are as follows:
|Saw||October 29, 2004||$55,185,045||$47,911,300||$103,096,345||$1–1.2 million|||
|Saw II||October 28, 2005||$87,039,965||$60,708,540||$147,748,505||$4 million|||
|Saw III||October 27, 2006||$80,238,724||$84,635,551||$164,874,275||$10 million|||
|Saw IV||October 26, 2007||$63,300,095||$76,052,538||$139,352,633||$10 million|||
|Saw V||October 24, 2008||$56,746,769||$57,117,290||$113,864,059||$10.8 million|||
|Saw VI||October 23, 2009||$27,693,292||$40,540,337||$68,233,629||$11 million|||
|Saw 3D||October 29, 2010||$45,710,178||$90,440,256||$136,150,434||$20 million|||
|Jigsaw||October 27, 2017||$38,052,832||$64,900,056||$102,952,888||$10 million|||
Critical and public response
|Saw||49% (184 reviews)||46 (32 reviews)||C+|
|Saw II||37% (120 reviews)||40 (28 reviews)||B+|
|Saw III||28% (92 reviews)||48 (16 reviews)||B|
|Saw IV||20% (81 reviews)||36 (16 reviews)||B|
|Saw V||13% (75 reviews)||20 (13 reviews)||C|
|Saw VI||39% (72 reviews)||30 (12 reviews)||B|
|Saw 3D||10% (79 reviews)||24 (17 reviews)||B–|
|Jigsaw||33% (87 reviews)||39 (18 reviews)||B|
Japanese video game company Konami currently owns the rights to the Saw interactive video game property. Konami stated in mid-2009 that they wanted to make Saw a series of video games to supplement the films. They also wish to make Saw their next big survival horror franchise next to their other property, Silent Hill. They stated that because Saw focuses on visual intensity and Silent Hill focuses on psychological terror, both could exist in the video game industry without directly competing against each other.
The first game in the series, Saw, set between the first and second film in the series, was initially released on October 6, 2009. with a sequel Saw II: Flesh & Blood, released on October 19, 2010, for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, ten days before the release of the seventh film, Saw 3D.
Saw: Rebirth, a comic book prequel to the original film released to promote Saw II. Its canonicity was later contradicted by events in Saw IV. It is, however, the first canonical appearance of Jigsaw's wife, Jill, who was later introduced into the film series in Saw III, and established still-canonical elements of Jigsaw's backstory (an engineer who is dying from brain cancer.)
Theme park attractions
- "Saw: The Ride" is a Gerstlauer Euro-Fighter roller coaster themed around the franchise, which opened on March 13, 2009, at Thorpe Park in the United Kingdom. It features an enclosed dark ride section with special effects, before cars travel outside and are pulled up a 100-foot vertical lift hill into a steep 100-degree drop.
- Thorpe Park opened a temporary Saw attraction called "Saw — Movie Bites" for their 2009 Fright Nights event.
- It was announced in October 2009 that Thorpe Park would also be adding a permanent, year-round live action horror maze themed around the Saw movies. It opened at the start of the 2010 season, and features six scenes representing one iconic trap from each movie to date.
- "Saw: Game Over" was a 2009 maze made by Universal Studios for Halloween Horror Nights, based on characters, traps and scenes from the films. At the Universal Studios Hollywood rendition of Horror Nights it was titled Saw: Game Over, while at the Universal Studios Florida rendition, it was simply titled Saw.
- "Saw", a themed haunted house, operated during the month of October at Fright Dome, Circus Circus Las Vegas. It featured interactive, handcrafted replicas of the "games" set by Jigsaw. It was introduced in 2009 and partnered with Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures.
- In 2010, "Halloween Fright Nights" at Warner Bros. Movie World featured a maze created by Sudden Impact Entertainment, featuring characters, traps and scenes from the films. The maze was simply titled "Saw Maze".
- "Saw Haunted Attraction" was a maze at the Brea Plaza Shopping Center in 2008 created by Sinister Pointe Haunted Attractions.
- "SAWMANIA" was a fan event in New York. Eventgoers were able to meet actors and directors, and view props used in the films.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Saw franchise.|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Saw (franchise)|
- Official sites
- Saw website (archive)
- Saw II website (archive)
- Saw III website (archive)
- Saw IV website (archive)
- Saw V website
- Other links
- Thorpe Park - home to two Saw attractions
- Goodbye John: A Farewell to Saw, as Jigsaw Lays His Last Trap by Scott Mendelson