The Reject ReportIt’s an uncommon thing when a film opening in less than 20 markets is getting more notoriety than the one opening on 2,800 screens. Such is the case this weekend.

Resident Evil: Afterlife is the clear winner in terms of size. It has a rather good chance of even coming out #1.

However, the most talked about film of the weekend features Joaquin Phoenix, a beard, and a year in the life of secluded madness. You be the judge who the true winner is. We’re just here to talk about box office.

BIG HITTERS

The zombies are back, and their swarms are flooding towards you in 3-D. But not just any 3-D, folks. This is the 3-D technology used for Avatar. At least that’s the marketing strategy Screen Gems has been using this whole time for Resident Evil: Afterlife, the fourth installment of the Resident Evil franchise for those who are counting. We have had a Resident Evil film released at the most every three years, and this latest entry is the first one directed by Paul W.S. Anderson since the first one in 2002. Oh yeah, he’s still working.

Screen Gems isn’t riding the 3-D train all the way to the bank. They’re still pimping the ridiculous action and the fact that Milla Jovovich is the one behind that ridiculous action. And why shouldn’t they? The Resident Evil films have consistently made just a little bit more than they cost in domestic sales. The last two opened to just over $23 million apiece, and there doesn’t seem to be any reason why this one will be any different. The 3-D factor isn’t a proven sell point. See Piranha 3-D for evidence. But it’s a factor that will only serve to supplement an already established franchise into a successful weekend.

See the trailer for the film that utilizes the latest, state-of-the-art 3-D technology right here. In other words, you can put away the green and red cardboard cutouts. This shit is RealD:

FAMILIARITIES

Not much made a splash last weekend, so not much is going to rise up for a second helping and dish it out this coming weekend, either. The American, Machete, and Going the Distance will all have standard, 40-50% drops this weekend. The American‘s drop-off might be amplified just a bit, as word that it doesn’t deliver what Focus Features is selling gets out.

There is a slight chance The Expendables could break $100 million this weekend. If it doesn’t, it surely will by early next week. It has made just as much overseas as it has here in the states, so that $200 million milestone is looming for its worldwide take. An Expendables 2 has been talked and talked and talked about, but the chances of it happening are ever-increasing with each, passing week.

LITTLE OPENERS

Joaquin Phoenix has gone off the deep end. That’s about all you need to know going into I’m Still Here, a film shot by Casey Affleck, Phoenix’s brother-in-law, that follows the “retired” actor in his year-long quest to begin a new career as a rap artist. The discussion behind this film has gone away from whether it’s all real or some elaborate hoax perpetrated by the two. Evidently, after seeing the film, you’re left with more questions than clear-cut answers. The discussion now is whether the film is even any good. Some are thrilled by it. Others are annoyed by it. It doesn’t get a wide release until September 17th, so it won’t make much of an impact this weekend. However, with the buzz, good and bad, surrounding it, it could very well slip into the top 10. It opens in 20 markets.

Check out Joaquin Phoenix looking completely bewildered in the trailer for I’m Still Here. Evidently, glazed over is the new black:

The found footage phenomena delves into comedy this weekend with The Virginity Hit. The film centers on a group of teens who set out to lose their virginity. You know, basically the plot you’ve seen 846 times before spanning across 3 or 4 generations. They couldn’t make these types of movies before that. The Hays Code didn’t allow it. What sets The Virginity Hit apart from all the other wannabes is the way it is presented as a faux documentary account of the helpless teens. We’re not 100% sure if that’s innovative enough, but nobody really asked us before they decided to release it. The film opens in limited release this weekend and expands in the weeks to come.

If you want to see the trailer for The Virginity Hit, or, if you want to basically have the whole movie spoiled for you, check it out right here:

Also in limited release:

Ahead of Time

The documentary Ahead of Time tells the story of Ruth Gruber, the youngest PhD in the world in 1934, a foreign correspondent, and photojournalist. Through her work, she met such world leaders as Eleanor Roosevelt, President Harry Truman, and David Ben Gurion. Ahead of Time opens in New York and L.A.

Bran Nue Dae

How much more fun can you have then to see Geoffrey Rush and a whole bunch of Aboriginal kids getting their musical on? You’re not likely to, and, thankfully, the people behind Bran Nue Dae knew that. That’s no doubt why they made the movie in the first place. It opens in New York City.

Heartbreaker

Heartbreaker is a romantic comedy that has already proven a smash hit in France. Romain Duris stars as a man who will gladly break up an unhappy relationship for a small fee. Kind of the anti-Hitch. No doubt this movie is much funnier. Heartbreaker opens in select cities this weekend.

Hideaway

Hideaway is a French drama about a pregnant woman who has lost her lover to a fatal overdose of drugs. She soon finds solace in the man’s homosexual brother, and the two spark a torrid love affair through the French countryside. I just made that last part up. No doubt the film works on a deeply emotional level. It opens in New York.

Honeymoons

Honeymoons takes a look at two couples, one Albanian, the other Serbian, who, having recently been married, set out to make their way towards the countries of Western Europe. It has a week-long engagement at the Museum of Modern Art in New York starring September 9th and ending on September 15th.

Legendary

John Cena: Thespian. I know that’s what you were thinking when you heard about this movie wherein the WWE champion plays a mysterious man who teaches a young boy the joys of high school wrestling and the life lessons that that entails. No doubt a smackdown or two will be laid down. Legendary opens in select cities. Cena’s Oscar with spinning nameplate is forthcoming.

Lovely, Still

Lovely, Still is a love story about two Academy Award winners who reach out for one last grab at that gold and, in the process, find affection in the face of the other. Cynicism aside, this movie starring Martin Landau and Ellen Burstyn looks quite compelling, and there is sure to be award buzz for them both. Lovely, Still opens in select cities.

My Suicide

A personal favorite of mine from South by Southwest 2009, My Suicide tells the troubling tale of a young high schooler who decides to end his own life. On top of that, he announced to his class that is going to do it, and he is going to film it for a class project. It’s a highly engaging drama with stellar performances from Gabriel Sunday, Joe Mantegna, Mariel Hemingway, and the late David Carradine. It opens in select cities on Friday.

The Romantics

Katie Holmes. Josh Duhamel. Anna Paquin. Adam Brody. Malin Ackerman. Elijah Wood. The Romantics certainly has the cast behind it. A film out of Sundance, it centers on seven friends who come together at a seaside wedding. It opens in New York and L.A.

Race to Nowhere

A documentary about the American school system shot by one of the concerned mothers who is watching her child’s Race to Nowhere, this is a personal film that looks at the way the children in our country are pushed through their teachings no matter the cost. It opens in New York and L.A.

Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)?

I don’t know, and I don’t know. That’s probably why this movie exists in the first place. To answer these enigmatic and life-altering questions. Regardless of who Harry Nilsson is, you’ll find such notable celebrities as Robin Williams, Randy Newman, and Yoko Ono talking quite a lot about him in this documentary. It opens in New York.

Here’s how the top 10 is shaping up this weekend:

  1. Resident Evil: Afterlife – $24.2m NEW
  2. The American – $6.7m (-48.8%)
  3. Machete – $6m (-47.1%)
  4. Takers – $5.9m (-45%)
  5. The Expendables – $3.8m (-41.2%)
  6. Going the Distance – $3.8m (-42.9%)
  7. The Last Exorcism – $3.4m (-52.6%)
  8. The Other Guys – $3.4m (-45%)
  9. Inception – $2.9m (-34.4%)
  10. Eat Pray Love – $2.8m (-40%)

And, with that, we’re looking at a $62.9-million weekend. We were afraid this was going to happen. A few weeks ago, I predicted we might see the lowest weekend of the year come at this point. With Resident Evil: Afterlife as the only new, wide release, there really isn’t much driving hordes of moviegoers to the theater this weekend. As well as it should do, it’s still no good without much backing it up. Without much pull from the second and third weekend runners, it seems very likely this will be the lowest box office weekend since the noted $50-million Bangkok Dangerous weekend in early September 2008.

We’ll be back on Sunday night to go over the weekend numbers.

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