September 16, 2012



Paul W.S. Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson share the glory.

OPENINGS:  W.S. Anderson’s RESIDENT EVIL:  RETRIBUTION (Screen Gems/Sony) took the weekend, but its $21.1M haul is the lowest the series has seen in a decade, and 20% below the opening of the last installment.  All of this only means something if it’s reflected overseas, since last time around, 80% of the worldwide gross came from international.  There was surprisingly little audience for FINDING NEMO 3D (Pixar/Disney), with a $17.5M start that’s below the 3D openings for both The Lion King and Beauty & the Beast.  (And Disney is claiming by far the lowest Sunday drop in the Top 10, so that number may still come down tomorrow.)

HOLDOVERS:  With little enthusiasm for the new arrivals, audiences went to see older movies this weekend.  Not a single title in the Top 10 declined more than 39% from last weekend, and while THE POSSESSION (Lionsgate) led the pack with $5.8M in Weekend 3, the drops for LAWLESS (Weinstein), PARANORMAN (Focus/Universal), THE BOURNE LEGACY (Universal) and THE CAMPAIGN (Warners) were all below 30%.

LIMITED RELEASE:  Paul Thomas Anderson’s THE MASTER (Weinstein Company) is aptly named, as this deeply serious art film has set a new record for per-theatre gross (minus some Disney movies–and Kevin Smith’s Red State–that played at giant movie palaces and/or included stage shows at higher ticket prices) with an astonishing $146K average, despite a 137-minute running time, R rating and a generally unforgiving tone.  Weinstein Company plans to expand the film to several hundred theatres next weekend, and that’s when we’ll see if there’s really a general audience for the film.

ARBITRAGE (Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions), admittedly on a much lower level, was also quite impressive with a $10.5K average at 197 theatres, for a $2.1M weekend.  Those would be solid numbers in any case, but here they’re historic because they represent the widest success to date for any film released simultaneously in theatres and on VOD, proving that last year’s Margin Call wasn’t a fluke, and this economic model can work for the right pictures.

Some other numbers of note:  SLEEPWALK WITH ME (IFC) expanded its run by more than 50% to 118 theatres, and held very well with a $3500 average.  FOR A GOOD TIME, CALL… (Focus/Universal) doubled to 107 theatres and slipped to a $2500 average.  There were limited audiences for LIBERAL ARTS (IFC) and 10 YEARS (Anchor Bay), both good movies, with around $7500 averages at 4 and 3 theatres respectively.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."