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New 'Resident Evil,' 'Finding Nemo 3D' Should Rejuvenate Struggling Box Office


After a couple incredibly slow weekends, the box office should get a shot in the arm this week with the release of "Resident Evil: Retribution," the fifth movie in the franchise based on the popular video game series. Also getting launched this week is the 3D version of "Finding Nemo," Pixar's critically acclaimed smash hit that should be able to resonate with a new generation of young moviegoers. Without any direct competition, it should also be a good weekend for political documentary "2016 Obama's America," which has started to put up some surprisingly strong numbers for independent distributor Rocky Mountain Pictures.

First hitting theaters in May of 2003, "Finding Nemo" instantly became one of animation studio Pixar's flagships, racking up $70 million in opening weekend revenue and finishing with a very strong $339 million domestically by the time it left theaters. "Finding Nemo" was also a massive hit outside of the U.S., helping push its worldwide total to $867 million and making it the biggest Pixar hit this side of "Toy Story 3." Adjusting for inflation, "Finding Nemo" would have brought in an estimated $451 million with today's ticket prices, which even tops "Toy Story 3" despite not having the significant advantage of being a sequel.

Adding to its potential this weekend will be the massive amount of critical appeal (99% Rotten Tomatoes rating), which will only encourage parents to take their children to the multiplex. With a G-rating, "Finding Nemo" is also one of the few Pixar releases not rated PG, giving it additional appeal for families with young kids. Considering that there are no other family films to challenge "Finding Nemo," the Disney distribution should clean up with its target demographic and finish at the top of the charts with somewhere near $30 million.

As "Finding Nemo 3D" hits an estimated 2,900 theaters, "Resident Evil: Retribution" is slated to hit 2,850 total venues and will appeal to a completely different target audience. Though the "Resident Evil" franchise hasn't been a runaway blockbuster, it has put up solid numbers for the last decade, starting with its first release in 2002. No "Resident Evil" release has yet to approach $100 million domestically, but they have been inexpensive to produce and have a strong international following, with worldwide revenues consistently cracking $100 million. The franchise has also grown over the years, culminating with a $296 million worldwide intake for 2010's "Afterlife," which more than doubled the revenue of predecessor "Extinction."

With star Milla Jovovich back atop the cast and virtually no competition, "Resident Evil: Retribution" has another great weekend to launch, particularly with recent new releases doing so poorly. "Resident Evil: Retribution" should be able to put up somewhere in the $23-$25 million range, easily enough to finish near the top of the box office charts once again for distributor Sony/Screen Gems.

As "Finding Nemo 3D" and "Resident Evil: Retribution" take over at the top of the box office, documentary "2016 Obama's America" should also put together yet another decent weekend. A conservative critique of President Obama, "2016 Obama's America" started slowly but has caught on with its intended audience, leading to a solid $27 million in domestic revenue as of this past Tuesday. Due to its success, "2016 Obama's America" has expanded from roughly 1,000 theaters to more than 2,000 as it capitalizes on the heated presidential race. Look for "2016 Obama's America" to land in the top 10 for the fourth consecutive weekend, which is very impressive for an independently released political documentary.

Also hitting theaters this weekend for the first time is director Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master," though it will reach just four theaters across the country before expanding next weekend. Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams, "The Master" has been one of the most buzzed about art-house releases of the fall. Though Anderson's films play to a niche audience, his last release "There Will Be Blood" crossed over to become easily his biggest commercial success thanks to enormous critical and awards season buzz.

Next weekend, action remake "Dredd" should be one of the top new releases of the weekend followed by Clint Eastwood-starring drama "Trouble with the Curve." Jake Gyllenhaal's action drama "End of Watch" will also hit theaters as will "House at the End of the Street," a thriller starring Jennifer Lawrence and Elisabeth Shue.

RTT Box Office Predictions for 9/14/12 - 9/16/12 (in millions):

1. Finding Nemo 3D (Disney): $30

2. Resident Evil: Retribution (Sony/Screen Gems): $24

3. The Possession (Lionsgate): $4.8

4. Lawless (Weinstein): $3.3

5. The Expendables 2 (Lionsgate): $2.4

6. The Words (CBS Films): $2.3

7. The Bourne Legacy (Universal): $2.1

8. 2016 Obama's America (Rocky Mountain): $2

9. ParaNorman (Focus): $1.8

10. The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Brother): $1.7

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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