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Weekend Box Office: Resident Evil Retribution Tops Finding Nemo 3D

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By Chris Kavan - 09/16/12 at 10:48 PM CT

Despite looking much better than last week's disastrous box office, the one-two punch of zombies and cute, animated fish couldn't do much to bolster a weak fall lineup that has plagued Hollywood.

Resident Evil: Retribution, the fifth film in the series, took in $21.1 million for first place. The total looks great compared to last week's $9.3 million opener, but it's noticeably lower opening than Resident Evil: Afterlife ($26.65 million), Extinction ($23.7 million) and Apocalypse ($23 million). It did manage to top the original film's $17.7 million, though with increased ticket prices, it didn't fill near as many seats. The bread and butter for this series has been international markets, however, so expect this film to reap more benefits over seas. Given the pretty awful C+ cinemascore, this should have a steep drop off in the coming weeks and a $50 million total might be all it can hope for domestically.

In second place with $17.5 million was the re-release of Finding Nemo in 3D. It wasn't anywhere near the numbers that The Lion King ($30.2 million) brought in, it was, however, very near to Beauty and the Beast ($17.8 million). Audiences have been pretty reluctant to embrace these 3D conversions of classics - The Lion King being the perfect storm of demand and nostalgia to draw in audiences - but otherwise both live action and animated films have fallen short. Still, with 3D conversion being relatively cheap, I expect we'll still be seeing plenty more of these (the two other Star Wars prequels as well as Monsters, Inc. are already planned) in the future.

The Possession managed to still hold on relatively well for a horror film, dropping just 38% in its third week taking in $5.8 million and winding up with a $41.2 million total. The film should be able to break the $50 million mark before the end of its run and on just a $14 million budget, it's going to be a fine return.

In fourth place, Lawless held even better, dropping just 30%. The film took in an additional $4.2 million and wound up with a $30.1 million total. Although it started off slow, this film still has a chance to break the $50 million mark as well before it finally leaves theaters.

Rounding out the top five, ParaNorman didn't suffer too much of a hit from Finding Nemo. The stop-motion animated film took in just over $3 million and is just shy of $50 million with a $49.3 million total. There's no doubt it will eclipse that mark within a day or two.

The biggest news on the box office wasn't in the major releases this week, but rather with a pair of limited release films that did spectacular business. Richard Gere, Susan Surandan and Tim Roth should be happy with Arbitrage. In just 197 theaters, it brought in over $2 million ($10,508 per theater average) and cracked the top 12. It's doing better than similarly-themed and likewise limited-release Margin Call and should be able to cruise passed that film's $5.35 million mark easily.

As good as Arbitrage was, another limited release film broke records. Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master - inspired in part by the creation of Scientology - starring Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman - opened in just five theaters but took in $750,000 - a whopping $146,000 per-theater average and topping Moonrise Kingdom's $130,749 to become the best live-action limited release opening of not just 2012, but of all time. Given the buzz, The Master will have a nationwide expansion this week and we'll see if those numbers translate to a decent general audience reaction as well.

Speaking of next week, aside from The Master, there are plenty of films that will be looking to have an impact: yet another reboot I'm "dreading" Dredd opens, we'll see if Jennifer Lawrence can pull off horror as well as action with House at the End of the Street, found footage meets crime with End of Watch with Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peņa trying to survive the cartels and finally, Clint Eastwood is directed by someone other than himself as he plays an aging baseball scout trying to connect with his daughter (Amy Adams) in Trouble with the Curve. That's a lot to choose from, but with so little to cheer about at the box office, hopefully one (or more) will finally get audiences excited again.

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