Sole new entry "Resident Evil" to top box office

Thu Sep 9, 2010 9:19pm EDT
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By Carl DiOrio

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - "Resident Evil: Afterlife" should set a new opening record for the zombie fright franchise when the 3D film opens Friday as the only new wide release at the weekend box office in North America.

The fourth entry in the Screen Gems/Sony video game-spawned series is set to earn at least $25 million during its first three days. Franchise originator Paul W.S. Anderson directed "Afterlife, with his wife Milla Jovovich again starring.

The most recent film, "Resident Evil: Extinction," opened to $23.7 million in September 2007 en route to a $51 million total. The final tally was in line with that of 2004's "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" and bigger than the $40 million haul of 2002's "Resident Evil."

"Afterlife" also will debut in most international territories during the next two weeks. German producer Constantin Films financed the reported $60 million production, with Sony acquiring distribution rights for most of the world.

"We're feeling good," Sony distribution president Rory Bruer said. "This is a global play for us, and there is a lot of heat for the film throughout the world."

Last weekend's No. 1 picture, the George Clooney assassin drama "The American" should grab the silver medal if it can ring up half as much as its $16.7 million first weekend. Its older-skewing audience profile should translate into a leggier run than the normal thriller, a genre that often shows good playability.

Two other pictures also enter sophomore sessions this weekend -- Fox's crime actioner "Machete" and Warner Bros.' romantic comedy "Going the Distance." "Machete" is unlikely to do more than 40% of its $14.1 million opening take. "Distance," which disappointed with $8.8 million, will look to add about $5 million to its total.

Also this session, Summit will rerelease "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse," a move sure to push the vampire threequel past the $300 million mark. The film has collected $298.8 million to date.