Resident Evil: Retribution Beats Nemo at Box Office with $21.1 Million

Sony’s Resident Evil: Retribution starring Milla Jovovich, and Disney’s 3D reissue of the Pixar classic Finding Nemo, helped breathe some life into the North American box office this weekend after taking a nosedive a week prior. The two films, along with the knockout limited debut of the new Paul Thomas Anderson drama The Master, helped ticket sales rise a healthy 39% over last weekend’s totals, yet still lag 21% behind last year’s numbers for the same weekend.

Resident Evil: Retribution, the fifth film in Sony’s video game-based franchise, earned an estimated $21.1 million from 3,012 theaters for a decent average just north of $7,000. A majority of the screens were 3D and IMAX 3D. While the numbers for the return of Alice were respectable, they were down roughly 20% from the domestic opening two years ago for Resident Evil: Afterlife. That entry opened to $26 million en route to the $60 million mark.

The Resident Evil: Retribution foreign debut was a much bigger affair than the domestic opening. Retribution snagged an estimated $50 million in overseas markets this weekend and should wind up bringing in at least three to four times that amount by the end of its global run.

After earning $90 million last September with a 3D reissue of its animated juggernaut The Lion King, Disney has gone 3D reissue happy with its modern-day animated classics. Beauty and the Beast popped back up in January and earned roughly $50 million in additional coin. Monsters Inc. is due to be reissued in December and this weekend their 2003 Pixar hit Finding Nemo came back to theaters in a 3D presentation. But unlike The Lion King, Nemo found it a little tougher raking in the dough. Everyone’s favorite Clown Fish returned to 2,904 theaters to earn an estimated $17.5 million.

One possible reason for the lower-than-expected earnings for Nemo might be the same thing that held Beauty and the Beast back this past winter: demand and availability. Beauty and the Beast and Finding Nemo have been readily available on home video leading up to their theatrical 3D reissues. The Lion King, however, had been off the DVD market prior to its return which helped fuel the pent-up demand for a big screen reissue. Pre-inflation, Nemo’s lifetime domestic gross now stands at $357 million ahead of its December Blu-ray debut.

One movie that not only met expectations but wildly exceed them was the limited-release debut of Paul Thomas Anderson’s critically-acclaimed drama The Master. Opening in five theaters, three of which are presenting the movie in the 70mm format the film was shot in, the Joaquin Phoenix film earned a jaw-dropping $730,000 for a record-setting $146,000 per screen. The previous per-screen record holder went to the debut of Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom this past May. The movie will expand to more screens over the next couple of weeks en route to a nationwide release in Mid-October.

Rounding out the top five were three August leftovers, each showing some decent staying power. Once again showing surprising legs for a horror film, Lionsgate’s The Possession eased a slight 38% from last weekend to land in third place with $5.8 million and up its total to $41 million. Fourth place went to the Weinstein Company’s Lawless. Off 30%, the Tom Hardy drama took in an estimated $4.2 million to bring its total to the $30 million mark. Rounding out the top five was Focus Features’ ParaNorman which sustained Nemo’s arrival to earn $3 million in additional sales this weekend and $49.3 million overall.

Rounding out the top ten were the following:

6. The Expendables Part Two (Lionsgate) $3.0 million (-39%) $80.9 million

7. The Words (CBS Films) $2.8 million (-39%) $9.1 million

8. The Bourne Legacy (Universal) $2.875 million (-27%) $107 million

9. The Odd Life of Timothy Green (Disney) $2.5 million (-31%) $49.6 million

10. The Campaign (Warner) $2.4 million (-29%) $82.8 million

Four new movies make their debuts next weekend with the common goal of doing what the Umbrella Corporation cannot: take down Milla Jovovich. Soon to be up against Resident Evil: Retribution are Dredd, Trouble with the Curve, House At the End of the Street and End of Watch.

– Shawn Fitzgerald

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