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After some truly pitiful results at the box office over the past few weeks, Hollywood can breathe easier after the solid debuts of two new entries nationwide and a spectacular opening in limited release.
Paul W.S. Anderson's "Resident Evil: Retribution" opened to a solid $8.4 million for what should be a $22-24 million weekend. That figure would be below the $26.6 million "Resident Evil: Afterlife" found in 2010, but on par with the debuts of the second and third installments in the franchise. Screen Gems and Sony Pictures expect to make up the picture's reported $65 million budget overseas. The franchise is much more popular globally with "Afterlife" grossing over $236 million outside the U.S. And based on Friday's debut, "Retribution" likely won't stay no. 1 for long.
The other big news Friday was the limited opening of Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" in New York and Los Angeles. Playing in only four theaters, "The Master" averaged $48,400 per show effectively selling out almost every screening. Based on Friday's per screen, "The Master" should easily surpass the $95,370 in 2 theaters Anderson's "There Will Be Blood" grossed in 2007. Whether it can top the $130,749 per location average that Focus Features' "Moonrise Kingdom" grossed in four theaters this past May remains to be seen, but it will certainly come down to the wire.
Meanwhile, holdovers "The Possession" and "Lawless" scored another $1.8 million and $1.3 million, respectively.
Look for complete box office estimates Sunday on HitFix.