Sunday, September 16, 2012

'Resident Evil' scores again with 'Retribution' - USA TODAY

Rafy, Screen Gems

Milla Jovovich brings consistency to the 'Resident Evil' franchise.

While not as wicked as its predecessor at the box office, Resident Evil: Retribution claimed the top spot at theaters, another No. 1 for a surprisingly consistent franchise.

The Milla Jovovich video-game adaptation claimed $21.1 million, according to studio estimates from box office tracking firm

The debut pales to the 2010 installment, Afterlife, which opened to $27 million. And analysts expected a debut of around $22 million.

Still, the critically panned series won a close race with the 3-D release of Finding Nemo, which some analysts expected to open at No. 1.

But fans have silenced Resident's critics as the five movies of the franchise have done more than $220 million domestically and more than $250 million worldwide.

Though Retribution marks the second-lowest debut of the franchise (behind only the 2002 original's $18 million), "there's little reason to believe that it's the end of the franchise, as it's become wildly popular overseas," says Tim Briody of

And with video game versions due next month for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, "I'd expect a sixth film in the next two to three years," Briody says.

Critics could probably wait longer. Just 33% of reviewers liked Retribution, according to pollsters But 71% of fans gave it a thumbs-up, the site says.

Nemo, meanwhile, earned raves from a near-perfect 99% of critics, Rottentomatoes says, and took second place with $17.5 million. Despite the second-place finish, kids make for strong-repeat viewing, and analysts say the film could collect more than $60 million by the end of its run.

The horror film The Possession took third with $5.8 million, followed by the gangster film Lawless with $4.2 million.

The cartoon ParaNorman rounded out the top five with $3 million. Final figures are due Monday.

Studios began trickling out Oscar bait this weekend in the form of Richard Gere's financial thriller Arbitrage and the Paul Thomas Anderson drama The Master.

Arbitrage took 12th place with $2.1 million in 197 theaters for a healthy $10,506 per-screen average.

The Scientology-inspired The Master did even better, scoring $730,000 in five theaters in New York and Los Angeles for a whopping $146,000 per-screen average. The film expands next weekend.

Ticket sales remain 3% ahead of last year's pace, while attendance remains up 2%, says.

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