SUNDAY AM, 5TH UPDATE: It was a revived box office at the start of the domestic weekend with respectable grosses for both opening but non-original pics. That’s a relief for Hollywood after weeks of lackluster threatrical sales and the lowest-grossing weekend in at least four years. But total moviegoing this weekend is only $86M, or -15% from last year when The Lion King in 3D made $30.1M. Then again, it had not been available on home entertainment since 1994 and was a ‘Disney Vault’ item much in demand in 3D. In contrast, Disney/Pixar’s 3D version of its 2003 blockbuster Finding Nemo (2,904 theaters) took in only $17.5M for the weekend despite the lack of fresh family fare in the cineplex. It also made $5.1M from 7 territories representing 22% of the international market. Which brings its global cume from all releases to $890.2M.
Sony/Screen Gems/Constantin Films’ 3D Resident Evil: Retribution (3,012 theaters) is the 5th installment in the sexy sci-fi/horror franchise and was an easy #1 against the clownfish. It opened with $8.8M Friday helped by $665K from midnight screenings. It topped out at $21.1M for the domestic weekend, which is less than the franchise’s 4th installment. No matter because it makes its real moolah overseas. Indeed, Resident Evil: Retribution grossed a big $50M overseas for a total $71.1M worldwide in just its first few days of release. That beats the last one overseas by about 28%. “This could be the biggest one yet,” a Sony exec gushed to me. Exit polls showed that 64% of the audience was male and 45% under age 25. About 48% experienced the film in 3D, 34% saw it in 2D, 14% viewed it in IMAX, and another 4% viewed it in other PLF theaters.
Frankly, the blogosphere has not always been kind to this series or the writing/directing/producing team of Paul W.S. Anderson and Jeremy Bolt (Impact Pictures). But I can’t argue with RE‘s amazing success. To give you an idea, the previous 4 films have an aggregate worldwide gross of $675M. The last film made $296M. If this 5th film could get to $325M worldwide, then the franchise hits $1B in worldwide box office. And I haven’t even mentioned the big DVD numbers. All on an aggregate budget of a mere $250M. How many filmmakers have created that return on investment? Also, Anderson has now shot his last 3 films in 3D, using the Vince Pace rigs, and is one of the few Hollywood directors comfortable with it. As a major player I respect emailed me this weekend, “Paul should get his due. He’s one of the most under-appreciated directors out there.”
And fresh from the Venice and Toronto International Film Festival circuit, The Weinstein Company’s much ballyhooed anti-Scientology movie The Master began its platform run and Oscar campaign by breaking art house records. Director Paul Thomas Anderson and talents Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman got off to a great start in limited release in 5 art houses (3 in NY and 2 in LA) grossing $729,745. Weinstein picked up the film from Annapurna for worldwide distribution. The indie studio was hoping to beat the art house record of $130K per screen set by Focus Features’ Moonrise Kingdom this year – and did just that with $145K.
Also of note, the same distribution company Rocky Mountain Pictures that released the hit political documentary 2016: Obama’s America on Friday opened Last Ounce of Courage. Both pics were in the Top 10 on Friday but fell out by Sunday. The newest pic aimed at “freedom-loving faith-based” audiences should have received a slow rollout. Instead, it debuted in 1,407 theaters with a marketing push including TV buys. Once again, this kind of movie produces strong pre-sales then grosses dwindle. It opened with a $1.7 weekend. Not sure if this pic has legs.
Finally, I’d be remiss not to mention Roadside Attractions’ and Lionsgate’s Arbitrage for the biggest U.S. opening ever for a film debuting in both movie theaters and On Demand — and by a wide margin. Because it made $2M this weekend on only 197 screens for a per screen average of $10.5K. The Richard Gere starrer written and directed by Nicholas Jarecki had Roadside boss Howard Cohen kvelling to me. Amd the film also is #2 on iTunes overall and #1 in both Drama and Thriller categories.
A fantastic weekend for the indies… Don’t miss Deadline’s specialty box office report later today.
Here’s the Top Ten movies based on weekend estimates:
1. Resident Evil 5 (Screen Gems/Sony) NEW [3,012 Runs]
Friday $8.4M, Saturday $7.6M, Weekend $21.1M
2. Finding Nemo (Pixar/Disney) NEW [2,904 Runs]
Friday $5.0M, Saturday $7.0M, Weekend $17.5M