Evil rules the weekend
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
September 16, 2012
The number one movie at the box office this weekend was Resident Evil: Retribution. The second Resident Evil film to feature 3D garnered $21.1 million, which is actually the second worst performance in the franchise to date. Allowing for ten years of box office inflation, this is the lowest number of tickets sold for any Resident Evil movie on opening weekend thus far. Presumably, this is due to a combination of North American zombie exhaustion and even stronger fatigue with 3D special effects sameness. Even so, a $21.1 million opening feels like The Avengers after last weekend’s results.
Critics were kinder to Resident Evil: Retribution than they ever have been with the franchise before. Barely. The movie is 35% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, edging out the original’s 34% to become the highest praised Resident Evil title thus far. This is NOT a high bar to clear. Audiences were less enthusiastic about the quality of the fifth Resident Evil release. Retribution earned a C+ Cinemascore, which is akin to saying that it was largely despised.
For obvious reasons, we should not expect a leggy performance in North America. Before we begin to write the movie off as a disappointment, however, I should note that Resident Evil: Retribution earned a dazzling $50 million in 50 overseas markets this weekend. This is an $11 million improvement from Resident Evil: Afterlife. So another $300 million in global box office still appears to be in the cards with the split between domestic and international revenue yet again skewing further away from North American importance. With $71.1 million earned in three days, Resident Evil: Retribution has injected much needed life into the global box office.
Second place goes to Finding Nemo 3D, as Disney brings another one of its treasured animated films back to theaters. Nemo finished the weekend with $17.5 million in 2,904 locations. Disney started the trend of releasing some of their “classic” films back to theaters in 3D back in 2009, when they repurposed both Toy Story and Toy Story 2 for a double feature aimed at getting audiences excited for Toy Story 3, which would follow several months later. The double feature was (re)released in October 2009 on a relatively small 1,745 screens and managed to take in $12.5 million over three days before finishing up with an additional $30.7 million in North America.
That number seemed like a pretty good baseline for how these 3D releases would perform, but then The Lion King 3D came along and shattered all those expectations by a long shot. Its first weekend was good for $30.2 million, almost the same amount that the Toy Story 3D double feature earned during its entire re-release. By the time The Lion King exited theaters at the end of 2011, it had tallied an additional $94.2 million domestically. Only a few weeks after The Lion King departed all theaters, Beauty and the Beast 3D was released over the weekend of January 13, 2012. That classic film earned $17.8 million and brought Disney yet another $47.6 million in additional revenue. Considering the slight investment involved for Disney and the fact that these 3D revamps are effectively advertisements for the 3D and Blu-ray DVDs of the films, the studio has found a lucrative way to milk additional cash from already profitable projects.