Inside Pulse Box Office Report: “Evil” Makes the Competition an Afterthought

Don’t make me show you my prison tats.

The first full week of September has past us by and what are we left with? We’re in that dead zone for cinematic entertainment, where summer bridges with fall and studio holdouts are distributed with little fanfare. With the festivals in Venice and Toronto kickstarting Oscar season, people are reading themselves for the “prestige” pictures and those that have more of bite than the latest Bella-Edward romance can offer. But then again the box office is mostly about the success at the mutliplex – not the arthouse. So holdovers of the summer looking for cheap thrills made their presence known – and with 3D eyewear to boot – with the fourth film in the Resident Evil franchise. Either by shear luck or something more sinister (maybe Mike Judge’s comedy Idiocracy is right about movie watchers after all), the survivor horror video game series has become one of the most financially reliable franchises out there. For the record, the first Resident Evil made $102 million worldwide; the 2004 sequel made $129 million worldwide; and the 2007 entry made $147 million worldwide. The numbers are spiraling upwards not downward for this franchise. And if Resident Evil: Afterlife‘s $27.7 million opening is any indication, it looks to continue the trend.

The film may not be Paul W.S. Anderson’s best opening – that honor would fall to Alien Vs. Predator – but it is sure to do well on home video just like all the other RE movies.

Takers maintains its silver medal spot as it continues to hold well. Not bad for a movie that Screen Gems bumped around in the release calendar, treating it as an afterthought. It may be a junior high crime picture, but it should eclipse $50 by midweek. It’s a strong crowd-pleaser, even pleasing the likes of our Kubryk who gave it a recommendation. Perhaps it was the great foot chase, or maybe audiences wanted to how Chris Brown would react when sharing the screen with a member of the opposite sex. The photogenic cast sell the crime flick, though I’m sure Paul Walker is just counting the days until his new Fast & Furious flick with Vin Diesel and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson hits theaters.

Holding strong despite audiences on Cinemascore rating the film a D- is The American with George Clooney. The film surprised box office pundits when it arrived as Labor Day weekend was approaching. Most figured that Machete or Takers would usurp its spot and finish first, but the Anton Corbijn thriller befuddled audiences into thinking it was this super spy flick, when it was more a character study at a man trying to get out of the spy game. It may not be a huge box office success, but a movie like this approaching $30 million domestic, and probably another thirty internationally, Focus Features can live with that figure. George Clooney may not generate gigantic box office openings, like Angelina Jolie, but he has found his niche allowing for some of his films making above-average numbers. It just goes to show that even a film like this can have good taste and make money.

Machete limps in at fourth, and proves that a very entertaining faux movie trailer doesn’t translate to box office success. It’s a Mexploitation flick and an action comedy with absurd comic subtleties. 20th Century Fox only paid $6 million for domestic rights, and it’s already recouped its production budget. And it should do killer business on DVD and Blu-ray, especially if a store offers a free machete with every purchase. Sadly, the foul-mouthed humor of Going the Distance isn’t the romantic treat that audiences were expecting. Still, there’s a good chemistry between stars Drew Barrymore and Justin Long and supporting characters fill in the gaps and provide their own laughs. Distance may be the lowest performing comedy on more than 300 screens, but it at least staved off The Other Guys in its sixth week of release. The Will Ferrell-Adam McKay action comedy with Mark Wahlberg as the “Yankee Clipper” is nearing $120 million.

Lionsgate finishes seventh and eighth for the weekend with The Last Exorcism and The Expendables. The pseudo-horror documentary set in Louisiana has scarred up $38 million and hopes to exorcise another $7 million to finish close to $45 million domestically. Sly Stallone’s action throwback has already netted $90 million overseas and another $98.5 million in the states. There’s already talk of sequels for both properties. Apparently, Stallone wants Bruce Willis as the villain.

And then there’s the movie that just keeps chugging along in cineplexes. Inception bypassed Sony Pictures’ Eat Pray Love to hold on to the ninth spot. Nine weeks after its bow in theaters, Christopher Nolan’s science-fiction film has earned $700 million worldwide. Not bad for a spec script. And get this: Inception still has territories that it has open. So it’s final numbers could near or surpass $750 million. That’ll put a smile on somebody’s face.

If your town has a local arthouse, this weekend saw the release of the Vietnamese film De Mai Tihn (Fool For Love). It opened well on eight screens, pulling in $52,800, while ensemble drama The Romantics did $44,000 on two screens. The Australian musical Bran Nue Dae could only muster $26,900 on 16 screens. In its second weekend, A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop added eight more screens and saw an 11.3% increase in attendance as a result.

Box Office Estimates taken from

1. Resident Evil: Afterlife – $27.7 million
2. Takers – $6.1 million ($48 million)
3. The American – $5.9 million ($27 million)
4. Machete – $4.2 million ($21 million)
5. Going the Distance – $3.8 million ($14 million)
6. The Other Guys – $3.6 million ($113 million)
7. The Last Exorcism – $3.5 million ($38 million)
8. The Expendables – $3.3 million ($188.5 million worldwide)
9. Inception – $3 million ($701 million worldwide)
10. Eat Pray Love – $2.9 million ($75 million)

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