Zombie Film Tops Box Office
'Resident Evil: Retribution' Tops Weak Session
Published: 09/16/2012, Last Updated: 09/17/2012 04:26am
Paul W.S. Anderson's Resident Evil: Retribution topped another weak session at the box office with an estimated $21.1 million, 21% less than Resident Evil: Afterlife earned in 2010, but more than enough to win this weekend's box office crown. The total of the top 12 films was down 19.4% from the same weekend last year as Tinseltown's late summer slump continued into the fall. The 3-D reissue of Finding Nemo debuted with an estimated $17.5 million well behind a similar release of The Lion King in 3-D, which opened with $30.1 million exactly a year ago when it debuted on this very same weekend.
Resident Evil: Retribution easily sold the fewest tickets of any of the five films in the horror franchise, which began in 2002. Anderson has directed each film in the series and they have all starred his wife Milla Jovovich. After five entries, the brand, which is easily one of the most successful film franchises based on a video game, appears to be losing some steam domestically. But don't worry about the future of this franchise, Resident Evil: Retribution has already earned $50 million overseas this weekend and is on track to match or even top Resident Evil: Afterlife's healthy $236.1 million in foreign earnings. In Japan Retribution's total was the best so far this year for a Hollywood movie and more than double the total earned by The Dark Knight Rises in its Japanese debut.
As might be expected for an "R" rated zombie movie, 64% of Retribution's opening weekend audience was male, with a solid 45% coming from the 18-25 age bracket. Forty-eight percent of the tickets sold for Retribution were at 3-D venues, while IMAX contributed 14% of the film's opening weekend gross. The domestic future of the Retribution remains cloudy at best due to the poor "C+" CinemaScore that opening weekend audiences gave it.
While Finding Nemo's debut was disappointing, it won't stop the studios from continuing to add 3-D to their backlist in order to get the classics in their vaults back into theaters. The cost is minimal. Pixar claims that it took just $5 million to convert Nemo, and the film should earn could easily end up north of $40 million domestically, and will likely do even better overseas where audiences are more intrigued by 3-D movies (Titanic 3-D earned nearly five times more overseas, $285 million, than it did here in North America, $57.9 million).
The holdovers all suffered small declines (under 40%), but a small decline from a small total still yields a small number and the box office is currently in dire need of a real hit. It should be noted that Lionsgate's exorcism-themed horror film The Possession has held up remarkably well. Produced for just $14 million, The Possession slipped to #3 in its third weekend, but it has already earned $41.2 million domestically.
Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises slipped out of the top ten during its 9th week in theaters. Worldwide Nolan’s final Batman film moved into 9th place on the list of worldwide box office hits (not adjusted for inflation), and should be able to move past Toy Story 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest in the weeks ahead. Right now it appears that TDKR will end up at the 7th spot on the list until some new even bigger mega-blockbuster comes along.
One film that flashed the kind of popularity in limited release that could indicate a Moonrise Kingdom-type of $45-50 million hit is the Weinstein Company's The Master, which earned $730,000 in just five theaters for a mammoth per-screen average of $146,000, the highest average ever posted for a live-action film. Will this limited-run success in New York and Los Angeles presage an Art House circuit hit and possible Oscar contender? This controversial film, which is directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (not to be confused with genre specialist Paul W.S. Anderson, see above) may have some fun with Scientology, but it is the film's central performance by Phillip Seymour Hoffman that has "Oscar" written all over it. With a debut like this The Master has established itself as a film to watch during the coming "awards season."
One would have to believe that next weekend offers the best chance this month for Hollywood to break out of its box office doldrums with the debut of the heavily TV advertised Trouble With the Curve starring Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, and Clint Eastwood, the comic book-based Dredd 3-D, and the horror/thriller House At the End of the Street, which stars The Hunger Games' Jennifer Lawrence. Check back here next week and see how they do.
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