The big winner at the U.S. box office this weekend is "Resident Evil: Retribution," although the real story might be the success of P.T. Anderson's "The Master," which stars Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
"Retribution" is the fifth installment of the "Resident Evil" franchise and earned an estimated $21.1 million across 3,012 screens in the country, according to the Hollywood Reporter. "The Master" broke arthouse records for a weekend total of $729,745, good enough to average $145,949 per theater. It is released so far only in New York and Los Angeles.
The Hollywood Reporter also noted that "The Master" looks to be holding its gains as the weekend continues. The film, about a cult leader and his followers in the 1950s, broke the previous "art film" record set by Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" earlier this year.
Filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson admitted he was influenced by the life of L. Ron Hubbard when coming up with the concept for "The Master," although he said the film is not meant to be a commentary on Scientology. Anderson's last film was 2007's "There Will Be Blood," which starred Daniel Day-Lewis as an oil baron in the early 1900s.
"The Master" is already considered one of the frontrunners to take home major awards, with Hoffman, Phoenix, and fellow star Amy Adams all in best acting conversations.
"Resident Evil: Retribution," written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson (no relation), stars Milla Jovovich as a zombie fighter in a series that's had success at the box office in the past. This weekend's numbers are in line with the first four movies, although Sony is expecting "Retribution" to be the most successful yet, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
"Resident Evil: Retribution" reviews have been mixed, with only 35 percent of critics approving of the movie on Rotten Tomatoes, although 71 percent of the audience gave it a thumbs-up. "The Master" had no such grey area, as 88 percent of critics and 84 percent of audience respondents liked the movie.
The rerelease of the Pixar classic "Finding Nemo" in 3-D was expected to come out of the weekend on top of the box office following the success of a 3-D "Lion King" last month, according to Entertainment Weekly. The Associated Press reported that "Nemo" opened in second place with $17.5 million.
For a full list of this week's number head over to Box Office Mojo.
1. Resident Evil: Retribution $21.1 million
2. Finding Nemo (3-D) $17.5 million
3. The Possession $5.8 million
4. Lawless $4.2 million
5. ParaNorman $3.04 million
6. The Expendables 2 $3.03 million
7. The Words $2.9 million
8. The Bourne Legacy $2.9 million
9. The Odd Life of Timothy Green $2.5 million
10. The Campaign $2.4 million