Box office preview: 'Finding Nemo' and 'Resident Evil' hope to boost an ailing market

Finding-Nemo

Image Credit: Pixar/Disney

After last weekend’s depressing box office frame, things are looking utterly swimming this time around, thanks to the 3-D re-release of Finding Nemo, which will likely top the chart.

Also opening this weekend is the fifth(!) Resident Evil film, which is headed for solid results, and faith-based title Last Ounce of Courage, which is being distributed by the same studio that pushed 2016: Obama’s America to financial success.

Here’s how the weekend box office might shake out:

Following the success of last September’s 3-D re-release of The Lion King, which earned an impressive $94.2 million, Disney announced plans to give some of its other beloved animations a similar treatment. In February, a re-released Beauty and the Beast garnered a more sensible $47.6 million. Finding Nemo, a massively popular film with more appeal to young boys, will likely outearn Beauty, but it’s unlikely to finish as high as The Lion King — especially since the 3-D re-release market has quickly been cluttered by film’s like Titanic and Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace.

Disney spent less than $5 million converting the underwater adventure into 3-D and is releasing the film into 2,904 theaters. With no family competition (ParaNorman is already five weeks old), and theaters cluttered with poorly reviewed wide releases, Nemo may swim away with about $25 million during the Friday to Sunday period.

Resident Evil: Retribution should finish close behind. Sony’s $65 million action sequel, which is being distributed by their Screen Gems division, features more of the same zombie slayings that are customary, courtesy of Milla Jovovich, in this video game-adapted franchise.

Encouragingly, each Resident Evil film has earned more than its predecessor. The original Resident Evil found $40.1 million in the US and $102.4 million globally in 2002. Resident Evil: Apocalypse grossed $51.2 million ($129.4 million worldwide) in 2004. Resident Evil: Extinction earned $50.6 million ($147.7 million worldwide) in 2007. And Resident Evil: Afterlife found $60.1 million ($296.2 million worldwide) in 2010. As those numbers reveal, the Resident Evil franchise’s appeal has gotten much stronger overseas than in the U.S. over the last decade, which justifies regular budget increases. Retribution‘s $65 million budget is a franchise high.

This time around, Retribution might not build upon Afterlife‘s gross. Although film opened with $26.7 million, it was boosted by 3-D ticket prices and actually sold the fewest tickets on opening weekend of any film in the franchise. Now that the 3-D fad is waning, Retribution may finish with a lower opening weekend gross. But it’s main money will come from international territories, which increasingly love bombastic Hollywood filmmaking. Out in 3,012 theaters, give it $22 million for the weekend.

Fun fact: Both Paul W.S. Anderson, the director of the Resident Evil films, and Paul Thomas Anderson, the helmer behind The Master, have movies opening today. I’d love to hear them review each other’s work.

There’s one other wide release you may not have heard of — The Last Ounce of Courage, which the film’s official site describes as “the story of a grieving father inspired by his grandson to take a stand for faith and freedom against a tide of apathy and vanishing liberty.” Conservative actor Chuck Norris has been promoting the film.

Courage arrives in 1,407 theaters courtesy of independent distributor Rocky Mountain Pictures, which has already pushed 2016: Obama’s America to $27.7 million. Perhaps the company feels emboldened by that film’s success, but I’m thinking that without much publicity, Last Ounce of Courage may struggle with about $3 million.

For box office updates throughout the weekend, follow me on Twitter.


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