Although the weekend’s top ten grosses- totalling around $65 million–were a nice boost from last weekend’s disastrous $45 million, they still represent a drop of more than 25% from the same weekend last year. Much of the difference comes from this year’s 3-D Disney reissue falling short of last year’s, but studios and theaters have reason to wonder when business is going to return to steadier levels.
Two different Paul Anderson are dominating the weekend. Paul W.S. Anderson is heading towards his 4th #1 weekend gross with “Resident Evil: Retribution,” and even more impressively, achieving this over three different decades. Paul Thomas Anderson meantime is scoring a huge opening with “The Master,” with the best ever (non-inflation adjusted) specialized platform PSA ($146,000) opening in five theaters for a three-day total of $730,000 (more details in Arthouse Audit).
Insurgent Utah-based Rocky Mountain Pictures fell out of the top 10, with its two releases, the ongoing “2016 Obama’s America” and the new “Last Ounce of Courage” both grossing around $2 million for the weekend, both in over 1,000 theaters.
The weak total is attributable more to the lack of strong new films over the last two weeks than the later holdovers. Several films declined far less than normal, suggesting that there is still a movie-hungry audience waiting to go out.
1. Resident Evil: Retribution (Sony) – NEW; Metacritic score: 46
$21,100,000 in 3,012 theaters; PSA: $7,005; Cumulative: $21,100,000
How many fifth entries of a series have been #1 for their opening weekend? Not that many. For genre films (horror, raunchy comedies), #5 often goes straight to DVD or cable. But not this franchise. Now in its 11th year, it’s back for one more swing at bat, and so far, so good. The 20% decline from the opening weekend of “Resident Evil: Afterlife” two years ago is in line with fall-offs for a late entry.
The first four films have grossed nearly $700 million worldwide on combined production budgets under $175 million, a solid return although at the higher end for Screen Gems (Sony’s genre production unit). #4 (“Afterlife”) like “Retribution” was in 3-D, and by itself accounted for nearly more than 40% of the series’ total previous grosses, primarily from foreign takings. The budget for this is reported to be around $60 million.
This is yet another #1 weekend for Paul W.S. Anderson, a capable director who despite a number of interesting films in various genres (“Event Horizon,” “Mortal Kombat,” “Alien vs. Predator” — his biggest success, the most recent “The Three Musketeers” as well as now three “Resident Evil” titles) never has been perceived as an “A” lister. He never has made a $100 million domestic grosser, and works mainly in less critic-friendly genres, but he delivers the goods consistently. His continued success is notable in an era when often studios hire a first-time director with video or other non-theatrical credits who work for far less and are given much less freedom. Many of these soon disappear from the scene, while Anderson keeps returning with another hit.
For lead Mila Jovovich, this is her 5th #1 film (all “Resident Evil” films plus “The Fifth Element”) as lead actress, which places her ahead of most of her contemporaries.
What comes next: Most foreign territories also opened this weekend (although several major European countries and Mexico will add on over the next few weeks), so this could be in profit very soon. And it seems likely this will not be the last in the series.
2. Finding Nemo 3D (Buena Vista) – NEW (reissue)
$17,504,000 in 2,904 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $6,028; Cumulative: $17,504,000
Disney should easily make back the expense of converting this Oscar-winning Pixar classic to 3-D this weekend, and a nice profit above marketing costs with the rest of the run and worldwide. However, these conversions seem to be bringing diminishing returns. “The Lion King” in 3-D had an opening weekend gross of over $30 million a year ago, and “Beauty and the Beast” did $17,750,000 in January. Pre-weekend estimates indicated this would end up #1 for the weekend, with this now looking like it will fall somewhat short.
What comes next: “Ratatouille” will follow in 3-D.
3. The Possession (Lionsgate) – Week 3; Last Weekend: #1
$5,800,000 (-39%) in 2,860 theaters (+26); PSA: $2,028; Cumulative: $41,167,000
Despite competition among horror fans from “Resident Evil: Retribution,” this still comes back with another decent weekend, attesting to a solid word of mouth.
What comes next: With a $14 million production cost, this, with most of international still to come, is going to be one of the best returns on investment among studio films this year.
4. Lawless (Weinstein) – Week 3; Last Weekend: #2
$4,219,000 (-30%) in 3,063 theaters (-75); PSA: $1,377; Cumulative: $30,141,000
A very modest decline for this 1930s rural south gangster film, exceeding post-opening weekend expectations.
What comes next: At this point, this could end up nearing $40 million, excellent for this Weinstein acquisition.
5. ParaNorman (Focus) – Week 5; Last Weekend: #5
$3,039,000 (-27) in 2,326 theaters (-843); PSA: $1,307; Cumulative: $49,336,000
For weeks it looked like $50 million was the high end of possibilities for this 3D animated film, but another terrific hold puts it at the brink, with now $60 million looking doable. This has now passed “Moonrise Kingdom” as Focus Features’ biggest release of the year.
What comes next: This steady performance won’t hurt the film’s chance for an Oscar Animated Feature nomination.
6. The Expendables 2 (Lionsgate) – Week 5; Last Weekend: #3
$3,030,000 (-36%) in 2,896 theaters (-364); PSA: $1,046; Cumulative: $80,290,000
Decent hold in week 5, and with foreign more than double this gross, this has now moved clearly into the success level despite the $100 million budget (with $350 million worldwide possible).
What comes next: Who could be added if there is a #3 to sustain the excitement? Harrison Ford perhaps? (Unlikely though.)
7. The Words (CBS) – Week 2; Last Weekend: #4
$2,880,000 (-39%) in 2,801 theaters (no change); PSA: $1,028; Cumulative: $9,160,000
Normal falloff, but with its opening below expectations, this Bradley Cooper Sundance-premiered drama doesn’t look like it will be able to sustain many of these theaters much longer.
What comes next: CBS had the best grossing acquisition from last year’s Toronto with “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.” Going wide from the start, this should soon overtake the much more limited “Beasts of the Southern Wild” in total gross, and, depending also on how well the soon-to-be-released “The Sessions” performs might also be the highest grossing one from this year’s Sundance.
8. The Bourne Legacy (Universal) – Week 6; Last Weekend: #6
$2,875,000 (-27%) in 2,170 theaters (-596); PSA: $1,325; Cumulative: $107,800,000
Continuing to hold quite well this late in the run, with only a 27% fall despite losing almost 600 theaters.
What comes next: Although new territories are still opening, this is going to be one high-end action film that will not double the domestic gross internationally, which could make Universal think carefully about continuing this series.
9. The Odd Life of Timothy Green (Buena Vista) – Week 5; Last Weekend: #7
$2,511,000 (-31%) in 2,415 theaters (-302); PSA: $1,040; Cumulative: $46,284,000
Matinees pushed this into the top 10, but good word of mouth overall is what is keeping this going. This only grossed $10 million its first weekend, which means the final gross will be over five times that total, an unusually high total (the normal industry standard is three to four times opening).
What comes next: This is the rare Disney film with low marketing tie-in potential, but its success could remind producers that a well-made family film can work in theaters even if not part of a franchise, a sequel or animated.
10. The Campaign (Warner Brothers) – Week 6; Last Weekend: #8
$2,405,000 (-29) in 2,002 theaters (-540); PSA: $1,201; Cumulative: $82,857,000
Another modest falloff as yet another film exceeds expectations from its opening weekend.
What comes next: Most of the rest of the world has yet to open, but this is not likely to repeat the success here because of its more U.S.-specific references.