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.