“Resident Evil: Afterlife” reaps goodness at box office

It’s been a hard day and I’m going going to keep it short and sweet. And how sweet it is for the husband-and-wife team of star Milla Jovovich and director Paul W.S. Anderson. Aided by those premium ticket prices for 3D movies and — as pointed out by Nikki Finke — using footage actually shot in 3D, the film easily won the weekend as indicated earlier and sailed to a record gross for the action-horror franchise. Specifically, the estimate for the weekend was $27.7 million for Screen Gems/Sony according to Box Office Mojo. It’ll likely drop off in significantly next week, but the damage is already done.

Elsewhere, there wasn’t that much box office love going around on this traditionally weak weekend. “Takers” came in at #2 and showed some relative legs with $6.1 million, again for Screen Gems/Sony, which is having a decent month. Meanwhile, both of last week’s toppers suffered significant second week declines. “The American,” from Focus Features, really did seem to suffer from some poor word of mouth and netted only a bit under $5.9 million.

Last week’s silver medalist, “Machete,” with two sequels announced in its end credits, suffered the geek second week curse and dropped by over 63% netting only 4.2% million. On the other hand, after seeing the film myself this weekend I heard some highly informal Hollywood scuttlebutt indicating the budget was significantly lower than $20 million figure we’ve heard for the very funny, but awfully slack, straight-faced tongue-in-cheek homage. So, it’s still possible Danny Trejo as Machete may kill again, if so, I’m guessing Fox will keep him on a tight budget.

  

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Weekend box office preview: “Resident Evil: Afterlife” moves in

We’re in a bit of a post-summer season lull here until the more adult oriented award season films kick in, and so this week sees only one new major release. The fourth entry in the series of video game-based science-fiction-horror-action films starring Milla Jovovich,  Screen Gems’ “Resident Evil: Afterlife,” is the first 3D entry in the increasingly successful and 100% critic proof series and marks the return of geek whipping boy Paul W.S. Anderson to the helm. This one isn’t being screened for critics, not that it matters either way.

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My go-to prognosticators Ben Fritz of the Los Angeles Times and Jolly Carl DiOrio of THR, both expect the film to easily top the weekend with about $25 million or so, bolstered by those high 3D ticket prices. Fritz also reminds us that the post-Labor Day weekend is traditionally the weakest movie going weekend of the year. If you hate crowds, here’s your chance.

Of course, that leaves a lot of room for jockeying between last weekend’s somewhat successful new releases, the #1 “The American” and the #2 “Machete.” Both films are quite modestly budgeted at $20 million according to Box Office Mojo’s chart, so they’ll both be profitable. Both also have issues with legs — “Machete” because it’s in a heavy-duty genre film and they are noted for huge second-weekend drop-offs and “The American” because it got truly terrible ratings from the people who answered the Cinemascore survey. Jolly Carl believes the way the film, which opened two days early last week, performed indicates that the word of mouth on the film isn’t nearly as bad as that D- would indicate. If the film proves as leggy as most adult-oriented film tend to be, that will a pretty serious black-eye for the polling firm.

Otherwise, there is a major reissue this week of “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” to give Twi-hards one last chance to route for their favorite monster boy-toys. Also there’s going to be a series of what amounts to sneak previews of the upcoming horny teenager mockumentary, ‘The Virginity Hit.” And, finally, the much discussed Joaquin Phoenix documentary that might not be a documentary, “I’m Still Here,” will be opening in about 19 theaters.  More about that a couple of posts down.

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Movie news night notes

The lesson for tonight is never rely on the “save and quit” feature of Mozilla to actually, you know, save your tabs. Here’s what I’ve been able to salvage.

* Probably the biggest geek movie news of today was word via Mike Fleming that “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” director Peter Sollett, also of the critically acclaimed “Raising Victor Vargas,” may helm the upcoming comic book adaptation, “Runaways.” Created by Brian K. Vaughn for Marvel, the book deals with the teenage angst of a group of kids who find out that their parents are supervillians and, of course, like all of us, they have some genetic baggage to deal with. Vaughn is also reportedly working on a script.

Another frequently mentioned name in connection with this project, who may or may not still be in the directorial running, is Joss Whedon, perhaps the cultiest of cult creators these days. Whedon is a natural thought given that he’s an accomplished film-maker comfortable with both relationships and action, made his name dealing with teen-angst on “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer” and, much more recently, wrote several issues of “Runaways.”

On the other hand, “Playlist” has a bit of a cult following of its own though Sollett hasn’t had to deal with action yet. Christopher Campbell notes that Sollett “did make an indie romantic film, so like Marc Webb he gets a Marvel superhero movie” and gathers the predictably diverse reaction.

* This may not be the most thoughtful reaction, and it sure does sound like some funny people are involved with it, but the news of the animated “Star Wars” sitcom brings one response to mind: “Noooooooooo!!!”‘

* Another item from AICN’s Hercules, much more to my liking — it’s about the latest restoration of what has to be one of the most often restored movies in film history and certainly one of the most important science fiction films ever made, Fritz Lang’s enormously influential silent film, “Metropolis.” The latest version actually brings the film to its original roughly 2.5 hour running time — the 90 minute version of my youth was more recently brought up to about 2 hours — and will be getting a theatrical run before the inevitable Blu-Ray/DVD release.

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Better yet,  for me anyway, is that opening night will be at Hollywood’s Chinese Theater as part of the festival sponsored by my favorite movie cable channel by far, the great and glorious TCM.

Do I sound like I’ve been bought off ? That’s because I have been. Specifically, my press credential has just cleared and it looks like I’ll be at that premiere with a live musical accompaniment, come heck or high water. But why does it have to be running opposite Tony Curtis hosting a showing of probably the best sex farce ever made, “Some Like it Hot“?

Read the rest of this entry »

  

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