Extinction Saves Box Office From Disaster
By John Hamann
September 23, 2007
It was another September weekend with little to get excited about, unless you are a Resident Evil junkie or the type that doesn't mind a lame date movie. Studios continued to roll out their less than great titles, and overall box office continued on par with last year's than stellar releases. Good news came in the form of Eastern Promises and Across the Universe, as the more cerebral fare had a chance to make the top ten against some weak and forgettable also-rans.
The number one film of the weekend is Resident Evil: Extinction (we can only hope) as Sony and Screen Gems enjoy one more kick at the can with the only video game franchise to work since Angelina Jolie's Tomb Raider series. Resident Evil: Extinction started what will be a very short run with an opening take of $24.0 million from 2,828 venues this weekend, giving it a venue average of $8,487. Compared to the last Resident Evil film, Apocalypse, the studio might be a little disappointed with the opening weekend. The second film in the series opened to $23 million in September 2004, so there was no bounce in box office for the opening of the third film. The Resident Evil franchise is known for a fairly strong opening frame, but then followed by nasty percentage drops in the weekends to come (the second Resident Evil flick dropped 62% in its second frame). The good news for the production partners and Screen Gems is that these films are cheap to make (this one came in at $45 million, according to IMDb) and tend to double the opening weekend before moving on to be popular on DVD. Using this logic, Resident Evil: Extinction should recoup its budget domestically. Even better news is that overseas grosses usually trump domestic grosses, so between foreign revenue and DVD sales and rentals, this Resident Evil incarnation should be seen as a win, whether I like it or not. This one was held back from critics (surprise!) but RottenTomatoes still found 22 reviewers to vote, and six have liked it so far, giving it a 27% fresh rating, but I think we can expect that number to drop as more reviews come in. Look for Resident Evil: Extinction to fold up shop next weekend with a very large drop, and finish its domestic run with about $45 million.
Our second place film, Good Luck Chuck, surprises somewhat with a gross over $10 million this weekend. How Dane Cook got this turd to open to $14 million is a mystery to me, but maybe there are more Jessica Alba fans out there than I expected. As mentioned above, Good Luck Chuck earned $14.0 million over its opening frame from only 2,612 venues, giving it a decent venue average of $5,360. Dane Cook has now made two smart choices appearing in films with a hot co-star like Jessica Simpson and now Jessica Alba. Jessica Simpson helped Cook find an $11.4 million opening in the brutal Employee of the Month, released in October of last year. Critics hammered Good Luck Chuck, with only 2 of 63 critics giving it a thumbs up. That's a 3% fresh rating, which means the Resident Evil sequel is most likely more entertaining than this one.
Finishing third is last weekend's number one film, The Brave One. The Jodie Foster revenge flick earned $7.4million in its second frame, and was off a disappointing 45%, after having a lower than expected opening weekend. The Brave One failed to have any impact on North American audiences, and looks to be heading for a short run. This is large step away from some of Foster's recent hits like Flightplan and The Inside Man, which both earned about $90 million at the domestic box office. Look for The Brave One to finish with about $40 million.
Finishing fourth is 3:10 to Yuma, the other Lionsgate release in the top ten. After a 36% drop last weekend from its $14 million opening, Yuma has a better hold this weekend, earning $6.4 million and falling 29%. Since its debut, 3:10 to Yuma has shown some strong staying power, though it will be looking at some serious competition from Brad Pitt's The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford in Weeks to come. When compared to its $50 million budget, 3:10 to Yuma's overall total of $37.9 million is looking pretty good when you consider that Russell Crowe should be able to sell some tickets in overseas markets. Look for Yuma to settle somewhere between $45 and $50 million.