In the wake of 2017's Jigsaw putting up the third weakest box office numbers of any title in the Saw series, executives and producers at Lionsgate opted to try and take the horror franchise in a new direction. Intrigued by a pitch from Chris Rock (who ultimately starred in the film), the studio developed 2021's semi-spinoff Spiral: From The Book Of Saw... and it did not go well. Jigsaw's $104.2 million worldwide earnings represented a considerable drop from the IP's biggest release (Saw III made $163.9 million in 2006), but Spiral only made $39.5 million before it was done playing in theaters.
The franchise has now gone back to its roots, with Tobin Bell's John Kramer given center stage in the upcoming Saw X, and it's motivated producer Mark Burg to reflect on the disappointment that was the attempted franchise rejuvenation. He recently told Entertainment Weekly,
[O]riginally, we were bringing it way more into the Saw universe, with Tobin Bell. Lionsgate convinced us to do a standalone movie. I loved Spiral, I'm really proud of it, but it did not do what we had hoped at the box office. We decided to go back and do the story that we originally planned on doing.
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, who made Saw II and Saw III, Spiral: From The Book Of Saw follows a new ensemble of characters in the Saw canon and features an antagonist who is inspired by the work of John Kramer a.k.a. The Jigsaw Killer. It is notably the only film in the franchise that doesn't feature Tobin Bell, and Saw X director Kevin Greutert recently threw it some shade by calling that "a gutsy move."
As noted by Mark Burg, the series has now course corrected, and not only has it gone back to the original series numbering, but Tobin Bell is featured as the lead this time around. Fans will remember that John Kramer died in Saw III, but the new movie gets around that fact by being set between the events of Saw and Saw II. In the film, John travels to Mexico for an experimental cancer treatment, but when he discovers that he is simply the target of a scam, he plots revenge against those who wronged him.
The Saw movies have never really seen much in the way of critical appreciation, but Saw X is proving to be a different case, as the film has been on the receiving end of positive buzz from early screenings. Audiences will be able to judge for themselves tonight from previews and tomorrow when the movie is officially released. (If you're looking to do some series rewatches beforehand, check out our Saw streaming guide).
It's one of a number of big scary features set to be released in time for spooky season, so to properly prepare for Halloween, head over to our Upcoming Horror Movies feature.