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Box office report: 'Resident Evil' outswims 'Nemo' with $21.1 million; 'The Master' off to record-breaking start

It was a great weekend to be a director named Paul Anderson.

Not only did Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil: Retribution become his fourth straight Resident Evil film to debut atop the chart; Paul Thomas Anderson’s drama The Master had one of the best opening weekends of all time in limited release.

In first place, Resident Evil: Retribution, the fifth entry in the stalwart horror/action franchise, earned $21.1 million — 21 percent less than 2010’s Resident Evil: Afterlife, which began with $26.7 million. This is the first time that a Resident Evil movie has earned less than its predecessor. The original Resident Evil earned $17.7 million in 2002. Resident Evil: Apocalypse grossed $23.0 million in 2004. Resident Evil: Extinction scored $23.7 million in 2007. Notably, Retribution, which is being distributed in 3-D and IMAX, also sold the fewest tickets of any of the Resident Evil films in its opening weekend.

Sony, who is distributing the $65 million Milla Jovovich (Paul W.S. Anderson’s wife) vehicle under its Screen Gems division, isn’t worried, though. The Resident Evil franchise’s international prospects have grown substantially over the last decade, and with a $50 million international start this weekend, Retribution has a good shot at finishing ahead of Afterlife‘s $296 million worldwide cume. Audiences issued the film a “C+” CinemaScore grade. READ FULL STORY

Box office update: 'Resident Evil: Retribution' wins Friday with $8.4 million; 'The Master' huge in limited release

After a successful opening Friday, horror/action sequel Resident Evil: Retribution is headed for an easy weekend win — the fourth straight number one opening for a Resident Evil film.

Sony’s $65 million Retribution grossed $8.4 million on Friday, 22 percent less than the $10.7 million opening Friday of 2010’s Resident Evil: Afterlife, which ultimately found $26.7 million over its first three days. Retribution‘s gross puts it on pace for a $22 million weekend, which would be smaller than both 2006’s Resident Evil: Extinction ($23.7 million) and 2004’s Resident Evil: Apocalypse ($23.0 million), but ahead of franchise launchpad Resident Evil, which started with $17.7 million in 2002. READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'The Possession' leads the worst weekend in over a decade

Chances are, you weren’t at the movies this weekend. Not a single film at the box office reached $10 million. Call it the curse of The Oogieloves.

The Top 12 films grossed a depressingly low $51.9 million — the worst Top 12 total since Sept. 5-7, 2008, when Nicolas Cage flop Bangkok Dangerous led the chart with $7.7 million and the Top 12 films earned $50.3 million.

Even more distressingly, this weekend marked the lowest cumulative ticket sales in over a decade. The last frame to notch worse overall ticket sales was Sept. 21-23, 2001 — two weekends after the 9/11 attacks — when only one new wide release entered theaters: Mariah Carey’s infamous bomb Glitter. (Keep in mind, as final weekend results come in on Monday, things could change. Stay tuned.)

Lionsgate’s $14 million horror entry The Possession once again topped the chart with $9.5 million. The film, which earned a “B” CinemaScore grade last week, enjoyed a better than expected hold (it dropped 46 percent) — especially since its debut results were inflated by it bowing on a holiday weekend. After ten days, The Possession has earned $33.3 million, and by the end of its run, it may possess close to $50 million total. READ FULL STORY

Box office update: 'The Possession' tops Friday with $2.9 million on an utterly awful weekend

For the second weekend in a row, Lionsgate’s $14 million horror film The Possession will top the box office.

That’s not necessarily a testament to the film’s quality, though — it’s a sign that moviegoers have been trained to avoid the theater in early September, and that this weekend’s newcomers are true box office misfires. In fact, this weekend will likely be the first time in more than a decade (since Sept. 21-23, 2001, when Hardball topped the chart) that the Top 12 movies didn’t cumulatively earn at least $50 million. Heck, they’ll be lucky to make $40 million!

The Possession earned $2.9 million on Friday — a healthy (for a horror movie) drop of 52 percent from its opening Friday. The Possession may scare up about $9 million by Sunday, easily giving it a second weekend in first place and a running total of $32.8 million. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: 'The Words' won't bring in the numbers over the slowest frame this year

For the first time in four years, it seems likely that no movie will pass $10 million at the box office this weekend.

The last time that happened? The weekend after the Republican and Democratic National Conventions wrapped in 2008, when Bangkok Dangerous topped the chart with just $7.8 million.

CBS Films’ third release this year (after The Woman in Black and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen), The Words, a romantic thriller starring Bradley Cooper and Zoe Saldana, has the best shot at (very) modest success. The title, which was made for a reported $6 million and is opening in 2,801 theaters, should do better than Cooper’s recent flop Hit and Run, which opened with $4.5 million, but it likely won’t reach as high as Saldana’s last leading effort Colombiana, which found $10.4 million in its opening weekend.

The rumored real-life romantic ups and downs of Saldana and Cooper may be the film’s biggest selling point — it’s certainly a sexier angle than the plagiarism plot line. Poor early reviews, coupled with a generic title and blah visuals, will keep many moviegoers at bay. Bradley Cooper looked like he may be a Limitless star last year when his action flick opened with $18.9 million, but The Words may open with a decidedly more limited $7.5 million.

The week’s other wide release is Summit’s long-on-the-shelf The Cold Light of Day, which is finally opening on this, the slowest weekend of the year. The thriller, shot for $25 million and co-financed by Intrepid Pictures, will be lucky to start with $3 million from 1,511 theaters. Fortunately, Summit didn’t put much money into advertising the film, which stars future Man of Steel Henry Cavill and Sigourney Weaver, after it underperformed at the international box office with $13.1 million.

With those films headed to soft business, there’s a chance that The Possession could take No. 1 once again — a rare feat for a frontloaded demonic tale. The Possession may drop by about 60 percent from its three-day debut of $17.7 million, which would yield about $7.1 million this time around. If it can manage a slightly better hold, it should take out The Words.

Are you headed to the box office this weekend? If so, what do you plan on seeing?

For more box office coverage, and up-to-the-minute results, follow me on Twitter.

'The Words': Bradley Cooper has a secret (and Jeremy Irons knows it) -- VIDEO

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The Words, which stars Bradley Cooper as an overnight literary sensation with a dark secret, has one of the finest examples of whatever the opposite of a meet-cute is called. (A meet-cruel?) The fair-haired young man is catching up on some light reading in the park when a disheveled older man interrupts and starts asking questions. But it’s clearly not a chance meeting; Jeremy Iron’s character has something to say, something he’s aching to say. Watch their introduction below: READ FULL STORY

'The Words': Bradley Cooper can't hide behind his own words -- EXCLUSIVE POSTER

Just how far are you willing to go to fulfill your dreams? To fulfill the dreams of those that you love and to live up to their expectations? It’s a question at the heart of The Words, a Sundance film that stars Bradley Cooper as a frustrated New York writer who is crumbling under the realization that his best might not ever be good enough. But then, before he can contemplate the ramifications, success lands in his lap. As Balzac wrote, “Behind every great fortune there is a great crime.”

Check out an exclusive motion poster for the drama, which opens Sept. 7, below.

READ FULL STORY

Bradley Cooper has a way with 'The Words' -- VIDEO

In Limitless, Bradley Cooper played a struggling writer who stumbles upon the secret to genius. It’s a theme that reappears in The Words, Cooper’s Sundance film about a semi-talented novelist who, in a moment of desperation, cuts some corners to become the celebrity scribe he’s always dreamed of being. “I’m not who I thought I was and I’m terrified that I never will be,” he confesses to his gorgeous wife (Zoe Saldana) before a fateful opportunity presents itself. In this case, it’s not a magic pill that opens the door to fame; rather, he finds an abandoned manuscript and decides to publish it as his own. But with every gift, there is a curse. Watch the trailer below. READ FULL STORY

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