High School Musical 3 Outdraws Saw V

Singing and dancing high school kids slew a grisly serial killer in a battle of movie franchises that's played out in theaters across the nation over the last two weeks. 

High School Musical 3 (or as it's known in 'tween circles, HSM 3), the third installment of Disney's wildly popular franchise, has earned $61.8 million domestically since it opened on October 24, and has occupied the top spot at the box office for the past two weekends. 

Saw V, the fifth installment of Lionsgate's “torture porn” Saw franchise, has earned $45.8 million domestically since it also opened on October 24.  It was second to HSM 3 its opening weekend and dropped to third last weekend. 

And for once it seems that movie audiences and critics agree. HSM 3 has received a 71 percent rating at the review site rottentomatoes.com, meaning that 71 percent of the reviews are favorable. USA Today's Claudia Puig praised the film in her review: “And with the latest plethora of gross-out bathroom humor in movies aimed at a young audience, High School Musical 3 really does emerge like a breath of fresh air. Even if the refreshing gust doesn't stay with you long, it's fun while it lasts.”

Critics however, panned Saw V.  The gore-fest garnered a 9 percent rating at the review site rottentomatoes.com, meaning that only 9 percent of reviewers gave it a favorable viewing.  Puig skewered the movie, writing, “Clearly, this fifth sequel is scraping the bottom of the barrel. Before they become nothing but 90 minutes of lackluster chopping, slicing, dicing and spurting, these rotting, stinking sequels need to be put on ice. Indefinitely.”  

Cynics could argue that it is unfair to compare HSM 3 and Saw V because the movies are completely different and are targeted toward different audiences. HSM 3 is a sweet story about a group of students' last days in high school. Saw V focuses on the twisted morality of a killer who attempts to teach lessons through dangerous, elaborate traps. However, it's clear based on box-office receipts alone that the market for fun, family-friendly entertainment is much larger than the market for blood-soaked torture.   

Colleen Raezler is a research assistant at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.