'Resident Evil' Infects Top Spot
Zombie video game franchise Resident Evil remained lively as its third outing easily led the weekend box office. Resident Evil: Extinction posted $23.7 million on approximately 3,500 screens at 2,828 theaters, the highest-grossing opening of the series though it sold slightly fewer tickets than the last picture.

In September 2004, Resident Evil: Apocalypse debuted to $23 million, while the first movie started with $17.7 million in 2002. Like most zombie movies, they fizzled out quickly, their opening weekends representing around 45 percent of their final grosses. If Extinction follows suit, it would wind up with about $53 million by the end of its run.

Good Luck Chuck attracted a moderate $13.7 million on around 3,100 screens at 2,612 sites. Among sex comedies, the opening was in the range of 40 Days and 40 Nights but much less attended than pictures like Knocked Up, Wedding Crashers and There's Something About Mary, which Chuck's advertisements mimicked. Distributor Lionsgate sold the picture as both a raunchy comedy with Dane Cook and as a cutesy romantic comedy with Jessica Alba, but Chuck didn't fit the bill for the latter.

Expanding nationwide, obscurely-titled Eastern Promises proved less alluring than A History of Violence, drawing $5.6 million at 1,404 venues compared to History's $8.1 million at 1,340. Both thrillers were directed by David Cronenberg and featured actor Viggo Mortensen and had nearly identical September release patterns.

Grabbing $5.2 million at 2,104 sites, Amanda Bynes' new vehicle, the lightly promoted Sydney White, debuted to less than half the business of her previous one, She's the Man. Both pictures were loose, teen comedy adaptations of classic tales, although Sydney White's basis in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was more strained than She's the Man's Twelfth Night origin.

Among wide holdovers, The Brave One retreated 46 percent to $7.3 million for $25 million in ten days, falling harder than Panic Room and Flightplan at the same point. 3:10 to Yuma (2007) didn't trail off as much, down 31 percent to $6.2 million for $37.7 million in 17 days, though it continued to lag behind Open Range.

Three pictures expanded to around 300 theaters apiece to mixed results. Musical Across the Universe fared best with a modest $2 million, while war drama In the Valley of Elah was weak with $1.3 million and war comedy The Hunting Party flopped with $365,661.

Opening in limited release, Into the Wild merited $212,440 at four locations, averaging a solid $53,110 per site. Distributor Paramount Vantage will expand the nature drama to the top 12 markets next weekend. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford grossed $147,812 at five sites, averaging $29,562, and distributor Warner Bros. plans to slowly roll the Western out, with a significant expansion not set until Oct. 19. Meanwhile, ensemble comedy The Jane Austen Book Club opened to a soft $148,549 at 25 venues, averaging $5,941. Prior to the weekend, distributor Sony Pictures Classics scheduled a nationwide expansion for Oct. 5.

RELATED ARTICLES• 9/25/06 - 'Jackass' Slams Into Top Spot (Same Weekend, 2006)

• 9/26/05 - 'Flightplan,' 'Corpse Bride' Give Rise to Lively Weekend (Same Weekend, 2005)


Weekend Box Office Results

• All Time September Openings

• Zombie Movies

• Video Game Adaptations

NOTE: This report was originally written on Sunday, Sept. 23 and was revised on Monday, Sept. 24 with actual grosses.