Weekend Box Office: Resident Evil Takes #1 While The Master Breaks Arthouse Records

I’m a model, you know what I mean, and I do my little turn on the catwalk.

Last week saw one of the worst performing box office weekends in years. No film in the top ten earned more than $10 million, and collectively the top ten collected $46 million. This week we got not one but two films opening bigger than $15 million. That’s a start, until you realize the two top moneyearners for the weekend were an established franchise and one of the most profitable animated films of all time gussied up and presented in 3-D.

The top earner for the weekend went to the fifth installment in Sony Pictures’ Resident Evil. With a growing fanbase – the fourth the series grossed nearly $300M worldwide – Resident Evil: Retribution got a 3D surcharge boost to finish north of $20M. However its predecessor, RE: Afterlife, debuted at less than $27M. Though the real money will be obtained overseas; already it has made $50M (or 70% of its total earnings).

To be honest, I’ve only seen the first Resident Evil complete all the way through. My instant reaction: this isn’t like the videogame at all. And subtitles that are forgettable and seemingly interchangeable (honestly, outside of the devoted fan, could a cinemaphile be able to match subtitles Apocalypse and Extinction to their placement in Resident Evil series?)

Finishing second was Finding Nemo. Disney, more than any studio, has benefitted the most with its re-release of celebrated animated classics in theaters. The strategy to release the likes of Beauty and the Beast and now Finding Nemo during dead periods for new releases (January and September). However, the most success to date for the studio has been The Lion King. For Nemo, it’s only been nine years since it was last in theaters, and while it was in theaters it broke every animated record under the sun, or thereabouts. Back in 2003, it made $335M domestic and that was without the 3D surcharge. Overall, it made $885M worldwide. Still relatively new, Nemo didn’t carry the same nostalgia as compared to Disney’s golden period in the early ’90s with films like the two mentioned above plus The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. Considering that Disney has Monsters Inc. on the slate for Dec. 19th, one could assume that it will have similar numbers for its opening weekend. Maybe even lower as it arrives a few after The Hobbit and Les Miserables. It will however be a good marketing push for next summer’s Monsters University.

Dropping from first to third is the exorcism flick The Possession. Pushing past $40M, it is close to becoming the second-highest top grosser for Sam Raimi’s production shingle, well behind the $100M The Grudge made in 2004. Lawless still continues to be relevant as that big screen release that skews to an older demographic. After three weeks the bootlegging drama has made $30M. With the arrival of the Clint Eastwood-starring Trouble with the Curve this weekend, it could mean that Lawless‘s audience may put their mason jars away and pick up their baseball gloves and play ball with Clint.

Getting pushed down the list we have The Expendables 2 finally eclipsing $80M after five weeks. Tack on another $158M from overseas to give it a grand total of $238M. ParaNorman, the only animated flick for kids and tweeners for the longest time, has been firmly planted in the top five for five weeks now. The arrival of Finding Nemo meant a loss of 3D screens, but it continues to be relevant because of so few new pictures arriving in theaters. Its weekend numbers even bested the likes of The Words, which got a 41% drop in attendance because word of mouth has pretty much killed any viewer participation, at least in theaters.

The lower rung of the top ten isn’t worthy of mention as it is just a bunch of films that are holding on to one last shred of box office relevance as they work their way down the list only to become stocking stuffers or lumps of coal this holiday season. That all depends on how you feel about The Bourne Legacy, The Odd Life of Timothy Green and The Campaign. (Seriously, what is it with all these films that start with “The”?)

Also puzzling is how relevant Rocky Mountain Films has become. Ten weeks ago I’m betting no one outside a few had heard of the production shingle. But ten weeks ago it was just release 2016: Obama’s America, a documentary that has amassed more than $30M in the U.S. This week the shingle rolled out Last Ounce of Courage, which Scott Sawitz said was “like Jesus Camp, only less scary.” Getting a release on more than 1400 screens, it collected $1.7M in ticket sales. Comparatively, Roadside Attractions’ Arbitrage, getting released through Lionsgate, played in 197 theaters and made $2M, finishing the weekend in twelfth position. What this tells us is that a film, no matter how poorly filmed or acted, can make money if pushed to the moon through church groups instead of critical praise. But in the case of Arbitrage, with its slick production values and strong acting, it has the critical praise (me included) and there’s already been rumblings for Richard Gere to get a Best Actor nomination. Also helping the financial thriller, where Gere plays a prickly, rich white guy, is its debut on VOD.

While $2M at 197 locations is a strong return, it can’t compare to Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. Making the trip from Houston to Austin on Monday afternoon, Robert Saucedo saw a special screening of the anticipated release (in 70mm no less) and wrote a glowing review. Over the weekend it played at five locations (16 screens total), in NY and LA, and had a per-screen average of $146k, besting Moonrise Kingdom‘s $130k average earlier this year.

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Source: Box Office Mojo

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