Lionsgate Television chairman Kevin Beggs recently acknowledged the likely possibility of a TV adaptation of the horror film franchise Saw. Directed by James Wan, the original 2004 movie was a blockbuster hit, earning more than $100 million worldwide and helping re-establish the earning potential of the horror genre. Its unexpected success at the box office kicked off a long-lasting franchise, spurring the release of nine feature films over the course of a decade, including a forthcoming movie starring Chris Rock. Despite lukewarm reviews from critics, it remains one of the high-grossest horror film franchises of all time.
In Saw, photographer Adam Stanheight (Leigh Whannell) finds himself trapped in a ramshackle room alongside oncologist Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes). As they attempt to make sense of the horrifying situation, they both listen to secret messages left for them on a microcassette recorder. Eventually, they realize that they are being tested by the Jigsaw Killer, a ruthless murderer who initiates terrifying “games” with his victims to assess how they will choose to react. During this cat-and-mouse experiment, one man must decide whether or not to kill his co-captor or risk losing his entire family.
According to Deadline, Beggs referenced the creative potential of expanding the storytelling scope of the popular Saw series. While reticent about the broader details of such a project, Beggs said, “We’re always exploring what we can do in television with something like the Saw franchise, so that’s a conversation.” Lionsgate is reportedly exploring a television adaptation of the book of Saw from Mark Burg and Oren Koules, co-runners of Twisted Pictures and producers of the film franchise.
Notably, the first few chapters of Saw reaped consistent financial success at the box office, transforming it into a highly profitable staple of the horror oeuvre. However, its later installments received backlash for its increasingly convoluted plots and reliance on what some critics deemed “torture porn.” In subsequent sequels to Saw, many of the movies attempted to up the narrative stakes by emphasizing the brutality and gore of Jigsaw’s games. As a result, the franchise has undergone ebbs and flows in terms of audience response. Overall, however, it perseveres as a cult series with a significant following.
While Spiral: From the Book of Saw will hit theaters in May, it remains to be seen whether or not Jigsaw will grace the small screen as well. At the same time, a television adaptation does offer greater space to explore the inner workings of the famed serial killer, including the ways in which his actions affect the rare victims who survive his twisted experiments. The horror genre perseveres as a dark form of narrative that draws in viewers with its provocative examination of the human psyche.