It's a good weekend if your name is Paul Anderson. Paul W.S. Anderson, architect of the seemingly unkillable "Resident Evil" franchise, saw its fifth installment, "Retribution," claw its way to approximately $21.1 million at the domestic box office this weekend, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Opening on 3,012 screens, the R-rated action-horror hybrid successfully fended off competition from the reissue of "Finding Nemo 3D," the week's other wide release.

"Nemo" scored $17.5 million on its second outing, opening in 2,904 locations. This puts it on a par with Disney's 3D re-release of "Beauty and the Beast" -- which took in $17.8 million earlier this year -- rather than the hefty haul of "The Lion King 3D," which rounded up $30.2 million when it returned to theaters in 2011. The modest total makes more sense for "Nemo" than "Beauty," given that the aquatic adventure was released a mere nine years ago, compared to the two decades since theatergoers last saw the "tale as old as time."

Elsewhere, Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" made an impressive debut, accumulating $729,745 on a mere five screens in New York and Los Angeles. With a per-location average of $145,949, "The Master" smashed art house records, knocking Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" from the top spot after overtaking its $130,759 per theater cume. It was enough to help the L. Ron Hubbard-inspired drama debut on the box office chart at number 18, overtaking holdovers such as "The Avengers" ($545,000), the IMAX re-release of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" ($400,000), and "Ted" ($393,000).

The limited release of Lionsgate's "Arbitrage" also performed well, gathering $2.1 million on 197 screens. THR predicts that, partnered with its simultaneous VOD debut, the financial thriller will be the biggest theatrical/VOD opening to date.

Something that will no doubt come as a relief to Hollywood bean counters: It appears that the box office has bounced back from last weekend's dismal numbers, which were the lowest on record since the weekend of Sept. 21-23, 2001.

For more on the weekend box office, head over to THR.com.

[Numbers via Box Office Mojo.]

Loading Slideshow...
  • Anthony Lane (New Yorker)

    On reflection, and despite these cavils, we should bow to The Master, because it gives us so much to revere, <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/cinema/2012/09/17/120917crci_cinema_lane" target="_hplink">starting with the image that opens the film and recurs right up to the end</a>.

  • Karina Longworth (Village Voice)

    It's a film of breathtaking cinematic romanticism and near-complete denial of conventional catharsis. You might wish it gave you more in terms of comfort food pleasure, <a href="http://www.villagevoice.com/2012-09-12/film/the-master-paul-thomas-anderson-film-review/" target="_hplink">but that's not Anderson's problem</a>.

  • Linda Holmes (NPR)

    Gorgeous to look at and <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2012/09/11/160927341/tiff-12-strong-performances-highlight-paul-thomas-andersons-the-master?ft=1&f=1045" target="_hplink">an absolute feast of strong and interesting acting</a>.

  • Calum Marsh (Slant Magazine)

    The Master is Paul Thomas Anderson with the edges sanded off, <a href="http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/the-master/6501" target="_hplink">the best bits shorn down to nubs</a>.

  • Scott Tobias (AV Club)

    It's a feisty, contentious, deliberately misshapen film, designed to challenge and frustrate audiences looking for a clean resolution. <a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/the-master,84866/" target="_hplink">Just because it's over doesn't mean it's settled</a>.

  • Katey Rich (CinemaBlend.com)

    The Master is unforgettable, but like the mercurial men at its center, the harder you try to read into it, <a href="http://www.cinemablend.com/reviews/The-Master-6016.html" target="_hplink">the more it slips away into the distance</a>.

  • Christy Lemire (Associated Press)

    In his first film since the 2010 performance-art stunt of "I'm Still Here," <a href="http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/sep/10/review-andersons-gorgeous-challenging-master/" target="_hplink">Phoenix once again digs deep to mine his character's inner torment and comes up with a mix of haunting quirks and tics</a>.

  • Lou Lumenick (New York Post)

    It's a sharply written, unforgettably directed character study <a href="http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/movies/cult_hit_yYhSsDuGHem6QoS3QLwebL?utm_medium=rss&utm_content=Movies" target="_hplink">with brilliant performances by Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams</a>...

  • Peter Travers (Rolling Stone)

    I believe in the church of Paul Thomas Anderson. Fierce and ferociously funny, The Master is a great movie, <a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/reviews/the-master-20120910" target="_hplink">the best of the year so far, and a new American classic</a>.

  • David Edelstein (New York Magazine)

    Anderson is a romantic who has earned his nihilism. He clarifies nothing, <a href="http://www.vulture.com/2012/09/edelstein-on-the-master.html" target="_hplink">but leaves us brooding on our own confusion</a>.

Related on HuffPost: