By Gabe Toro | The Playlist September 16, 2012 at 11:53AM
After an extended down period, the box office is back! Sorta! Kinda! Not really! We're not sure what this means! Regardless, after a weekend where no film registered a double-digit gross in the millions, there were two films from highly established brands battling for supremacy. In the end, the victory was had by "Resident Evil: Retribution," the fourth straight film from this franchise to open at the top spot. 'Retribution' also benefits from 3D like it's predecessor, "Resident Evil: Afterlife," though that film debuted to slightly under $27 million, and 'Retribution' is looking at a weekend tally of only $21 million.
This remains a franchise with a heavy fanbase, however, this gross is lower than the first weekend takes of "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" and "Resident Evil: Extinction." But, like these films' forgettable subtitles, the grosses are largely interchangable stateside -- 'Afterlife' registered the series' strongest U.S. numbers with a $60 million tally, while parts two and three closed out at $51 and $50 million, respectively. That in itself is strong for a series where each installment costs in the vicinity of $50-$60 million. But, naturally, that doesn't tell the entire story.
Each entry in this series is successful in the U.S., but much more profitable abroad. The last one set a new standard, benefitting from the 3D format's success around the globe to pull in $296 million worldwide -- $236 million courtesy of our foreign neighbors. With initial reports from overseas, that pattern is expected to continue this time, with 'Retribution' scheduled to ring up the series' best overall international bow. This is becoming a trend for director Paul W.S. Anderson -- shunned as a hack in America, his pictures are nonetheless global sensations as he sandwiched "The Three Musketeers" between the last two 'Resident Evil' films, a film that collected almost 85% of its $132 million gross overseas.
Disney was considered to be cracking open the vault when they re-released "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Lion King" to audiences. But with "Finding Nemo," the demand wasn't so great, and the picture should register a less impressive opening than either of those films despite premiering in more theaters. "Finding Nemo," still a beloved smash hit, did not benefit from the same nostalgia, as the Pixar efforts have seen a longer catalog life than those pictures. Though the film collected almost $900 million nine years ago, it's simply not that long ago. It's likely some of the kids that were a part of the theatrical and DVD success of "Finding Nemo" are STILL kids. This probably doesn't bode well for the upcoming 3D re-release of "Monsters Inc." though that's likely just as much of a promotional tool for next year's "Monsters University."
Easing up out of the pole position was "The Possession," which has had spooky good legs as it moves into its third weekend. The picture's already past $40 million and should soon surpass "Boogeyman" to become the second highest grossing effort from Sam Raimi's Ghost House production shingle -- it's very likely the film won't eclipse the $110 million total for "The Grudge." An even smaller tumble was had by "Lawless," which has hung around strong in the top ten, and could even surpass the horror film above it as early as next weekend. After a meek opening, the bootlegging drama is already up around $30 million, and seems to have registered with older audiences, though that same audience is likely to leave this film in the lurch once Clint returns next weekend with "Trouble with the Curve."
Speaking of the elderly, "The Expendables 2" has spent five weeks in the top five, collecting $80 million that now seems like chump change compared to a worldwide tally fast approaching $200 million on its own. The sequel is well on its way to pulverizing the first picture's global total. Kidflick "ParaNorman" continues to hang around, though it surpassed the rest of the top ten simply by virtue of very few new pictures -- it very easily bounded over last week's "The Words," which through two weekends has yet to surpass $10 million total. Maybe next time don't release a movie called "The Words" unless it's the sequel to a book called "The Pictures."
Those wacky numbskulls at Rocky Mountain Films have done it again. After releasing the $30 million-grossing "2016: Obama's America," they made a full-court press for their new niche picture "Last Ounce of Courage." In this film, which was not screened for most critics because critics are liberal scum, a white man tries to uphold his religious freedom against the nefarious liberal elite in their quest to muffle all Christians from expressing their love of being the tip-top bestest religion in the world. You can see how this would strike a chord with sane people. The film garnered some attention with a national ad campaign considerably more muscular than the previously mentioned documentary, though the picture could only register $2 million on 1,407 screens, ranking it below the tenth (!) weekend of release for 'Obama's America.'
In limited release, "Arbitrage" collected $1.9 million at 197 locations, part of a day-and-date strategy for Roadside Attractions that included debuting the film on VOD. Though the money is greater, those tallies pale in comparison to the first weekend take of the hotly aniticpated "The Master." The film is expected to finish Sunday with a spectacular $750k at five locations, on sixteen screens, and a per-screen average of $146k, which is the strongest limited release debut in history. Support your local arthouse theaters, boys and girls.
1. Resident Evil: More Of This Again (Sony) - $21.1 million
2. Remember That Fish Movie Your Niece Always Forces You To Watch When You Babysit? Now It's In 3D (Disney) - $17.5 million
3. The Possession (Lionsgate) - $5.8 million ($41.2 mil.)
4. Lawless (Weinstein) - $4.2 million ($30.1 mil.)
5. The Expendables 2 (Lionsgate) - $3 million ($80.3 mil.)
6. ParaNorman (Focus) - $3 million ($49.3 mil.)
7. The Bourne Legacy (Universal) - $2.9 million ($104.9 mil.)
8. The Words (Sony) - $2.8 million ($9.1 mil.)
9. The Odd Life Of Timothy Green (Disney) - $2.5 million ($46.2 mil.)
10. The Campaign (WB) - $2.4 million ($82.8 mil.)