It was in 1993 that Hollywood realized the dream of putting a video game movie up on the big screen with Super Mario Bros., and setting the stage for a long legacy of questionable choices, troubled productions, and gamers’ pixel tears left in their wake. But like the kid who just has to pump in one more quarter to reach for that high score, the studios keep on trying (while the fans just keep on hoping), and we’re celebrating that sort of sheer tenacity with this guide to the best video game movies (and plenty of the worst) ranked by Tomatometer!
Here, you will find the near-decent (Rampage, Resident Evil), the should’ve-been-goods (Assassin’s Creed, Warcraft), the ridiculous-but-we-love-thems (Mortal Kombat, Silent Hill), and the ones made by Uwe Boll, who deserves his own category (Alone in the Dark, House of the Dead). We’re using a 20-review minimum cutoff for inclusion from theatrical releases only, because it’s not just enough to make a questionable movie, critics need to witness the aftermath, too.
And in May 2019, Detective Pikachu officially broke the video game curse! Fitting that Nintendo, whose Super Mario Bros. movie started all this trouble, would be the one to end it. And in another surprise 2019 development, the second Angry Birds movie has slingshot the naysayers by racking up plenty of critical praise, toppling Pikachu mere months after its release.
Then in 2020, when it didn’t seem it had a chili dog’s chance in hell, Sonic the Hedgehog to general critics enthusiasm, marking three Fresh video game movies in two years. And then, in 2021, Werewolves Within went Certified Fresh, establishing it as by-far the best-reviewed video game movie! See all the high scores (and lots and lots of the lows) with our guide to 46 video game movies, ranked worst to best!
Critics Consensus: With its shallow characters, low budget special effects, and mindless fight scenes, Mortal Kombat - Annihilation offers minimal plot development and manages to underachieve the low bar set by its predecessor.
Synopsis: Every generation, a portal opens up between the Outerworld and Earth. Emperor Shao-Kahn (Brian Thompson), ruler of the mythical Outerworld,... [More]
Critics Consensus: Though it offers mild entertainment through campy one-liners and the overacting of the late Raul Julia, Street Fighter's nonstop action sequences are not enough to make up for a predictable, uneven storyline.
Synopsis: Gen. Bison (Raul Julia), the evil dictator of Shadaloo, captures a busload of relief workers and holds them for ransom.... [More]
Critics Consensus:Assassin's Creed is arguably better made (and certainly better cast) than most video game adaptations; unfortunately, the CGI-fueled end result still is still a joylessly overplotted slog.
Synopsis: Cal Lynch travels back in time to 15th-century Spain through a revolutionary technology that unlocks the genetic memories contained in... [More]
Critics Consensus: Despite being somewhat more exciting than the previous film, this kiddy flick still lacks any real adventure or excitement. What is does contain is choppy animation and poor voice acting. Doesn't match up to virtually anything out there.
Synopsis: Ash's adventure begins when a powerful storm beaches him and his friends on Shamouti Island just as the islanders are... [More]
Critics Consensus:Resident Evil: Retribution offers everything one might reasonably expect from the fifth installment in a heavily action-dependent franchise -- which means very little beyond stylishly hollow CGI-enhanced set pieces.
Synopsis: As Umbrella Corp.'s deadly T-virus continues to turn the world's population into legions of flesh-eating zombies, Alice (Milla Jovovich), the... [More]
Critics Consensus:Warcraft has visual thrills to spare, but they -- and director Duncan Jones' distinctive gifts -- are wasted on a sluggish and derivative adaptation of a bestselling game with little evident cinematic value.
Synopsis: Looking to escape from his dying world, the orc shaman Gul'dan utilizes dark magic to open a portal to the... [More]
Critics Consensus:Resident Evil: The Final Chapter may prove mind-numbingly chaotic for the unconverted, but for fans of the venerable franchise, it offers a fittingly kinetic conclusion to its violent post-apocalyptic saga.
Synopsis: The T-virus unleashed by the evil Umbrella Corp. has spread to every corner of the globe, infesting the planet with... [More]
Critics Consensus: Fittingly fleet and frequently fun, Sonic the Hedgehog is a video game-inspired adventure the whole family can enjoy -- and a fine excuse for Jim Carrey to tap into the manic energy that launched his career.
Synopsis: The world needed a hero -- it got a hedgehog. Powered with incredible speed, Sonic embraces his new home on... [More]
Critics Consensus:Pokémon Detective Pikachu may not take its wonderfully bizarre premise as far as it could have, but this offbeat adaptation should catch most -- if not all -- of the franchise's fans.
Synopsis: Ace detective Harry Goodman goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son, Tim, to find out what happened. Aiding in the... [More]
The 2018 Electronic Entertainment Expo offered some promising new titles inspired by our favorite films and television shows when it hit the Los Angeles Convention Center June 12-14. Games based on movies and serialized TV are nothing new, but the genre has a history of pushing out products more focused on promoting an IP than offering a quality interactive experience.
That’s changing. Game developers, passionate about the same titles as the rest of us, are shelving the marketing-spun schlock in favor of crafting ambitious projects that put us in our favorite fictional worlds.
Here are 10 we can’t wait to play!
JURASSIC WORLD EVOLUTION
Developer: Frontier Developments Publisher: Frontier Developments Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC Release Date: Available now
As fans of the Jurassic Park franchise films are well aware, the movies are primarily action-ratcheting affairs focused on dinos unleashing all kinds of hell on unsuspecting park-goers. Jurassic World Evolution, however, trades epic destruction for careful construction, as it tasks players with planning, building, managing, and monitoring their very own prehistoric theme park. While the game’s more of a cerebral stimulation, it’ll still spike your adrenaline when, say, your burgeoning management skills accidentally let a velociraptor loose in the food court.
LEGO THE INCREDIBLES
Developer: TT Games Publisher: Warner Bros. Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch Release Date: Available now
If seeing Incredibles 2 hasn’t completely satisfied your craving for the superhero family’s unique brand of crime-fighting fun, you may want to suit-up for LEGO The Incredibles. Brimming with block-y bad guys, brick-based puzzles, and the LEGO series’ signature personality and humor, this latest plastic toy-packed adventure lets fans relive the best moments from both entries in the popular Pixar franchise. Tons of playable characters – including fan-favorite Edna Mode – and special moves, requiring the entire Parr crew to participate, round out this family-friendly romp.
Developer: Insomniac Games Publisher: Sony Systems: PlayStation 4 Release Date: September 7, 2018
Set in a sprawling, open-world New York City, this original Spider-Man tale – from veteran developer Insomniac Games – forgoes the origin story slog in favor of putting players behind the shooting webs, acrobatic combat, and wisecracking sense of humor of a more seasoned Spidey. An eye-popping visual presentation, adrenaline-spiking set pieces, fluid action, and more iconic villains than you can cram into Raft prison complement the cinematic wall-crawling, web-spinning action.
WORLD WAR Z
Developer: Saber Interactive Publisher: Paramount Pictures Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC Release Date: 2018
Plenty of games task players with shooting zombies, scavenging for supplies, and generally doing whatever it takes to survive the undead apocalypse. World War Z – which borrows more from the Brad Pitt film than Max Brooks’ book – breaths some fresh life into the rotting corpse genre, however, by putting up to 500 flesh-eating freaks on screen simultaneously. Of course, these hungry hordes can also form horrifying zombie pyramids, making it more difficult for you and your co-op partners to fend them off and live another day.
SHADOW OF THE TOMB RAIDER
Developer: Crystal Dynamics Publisher: Square Enix Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC Release Date: September 14, 2018
Fans of the Tomb Raider films and games can expect to meet a very different Lara Croft in this trilogy-capping entry. More Predator than Indiana Jones, Shadow of the Tomb Raider sees a confident, capable, vengeance-craving Croft camouflaged in mud and employing brutal combat tactics to turn exotic jungle locales into goon graveyards. Though Shadow isn’t your typical relic-hunting romp, players can still expect seat-of-the-pants storytelling, cinematic set pieces, and, yes, plenty of tombs to raid.
LEGO DC SUPER-VILLAINS
Developer: TT Games Publisher: Warner Bros. Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC Release Date: October 16, 2018
TT Games has no less than three Batman-starring installments in their stable of brick-busting LEGO adventures, but their latest DC entry is taking a decidedly different approach to the iconic comic book universe. As its title suggests, LEGO DC Super-Villains is all about the bad guys, from Harley Quinn and Lex Luthor to Poison Ivy and the Crown Prince of Crime himself, the Joker. Rather than playing as these iconic foes though, players will join them as their very own, fully customizable and upgradeable evildoer.
OVERKILL’S THE WALKING DEAD
Developer: Overkill Software Publisher: Starbreeze Studios/505 Games Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC Release Date: November 6, 2018
Hundreds of games have pitted players against hordes of foot-shuffling foes, and a handful of those have even unfolded in Robert Kirkman’s walker-infested world. Overkill’s The Walking Dead separates itself from the brain-craving bunch, however, by translating the unforgiving world of the comic books into thumb-blistering gameplay. For fans, this means strategically cooperating with three other players to not only survive brutally difficult encounters with the undead, but also joining forces to fight the game’s most challenging enemies, a human faction dubbed “The Family.”
Developer: IO Interactive Publisher: WBIE Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC Release Date: November 13, 2018
We haven’t seen the bald, bar-coded assassin on the big screen since Rupert Friend wore his signature sharp suit and red tie in 2015’s Hitman: Agent 47. Fans needn’t wait for a film sequel to be reunited with their favorite hired killer, however, as Hitman 2 is headed to game consoles this fall. Assuming the role of the titular professional, stealthy players will travel to stunningly-realized exotic locales, don disguises, and incorporate improvised weapons – such as rat poison, frying pans, and frozen fish – to permanently silence high-level targets.
RESIDENT EVIL 2
Developer: Capcom Publisher: Capcom Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC Release Date: January 25, 2019
Long before zombie shooters and apocalypse survival sims spread through the video game world like a population-wiping plague, players were fighting virally-infected canines and gobbling up green herbs in Resident Evil. Now, Capcom is inviting fans back to Raccoon City to relive what’s widely considered the seminal survival horror series’ best entry. More than a mere remaster though, Resident Evil 2 is a completely rebuilt re-imagining, featuring brand new visuals, audio, controls, and a nerve-fraying narrative to rival any contemporary take on the walking corpse genre.
KINGDOM HEARTS III
Developer: Square Enix Publisher: Square Enix Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One Release Date: January 29, 2019
The Kingdom Hearts series has always been defined by its appealing, if unlikely, mash-up of Disney and Final Fantasy characters. Its long-awaited sequel though, is doubling down on the Disney – and Pixar – content, inviting fans to explore worlds and interact with heroes and villains from a variety of favorite films from Walt’s vault. From Frozen, Tangled, and Toy Story to Hercules, Wreck-It Ralph, and Pirates of the Caribbean, this fan-servicing sequel has something for Disney and Pixar enthusiasts of all stripes.
In the first known instance of bloodshed in Bogota, 80 American corporate workers living in the Colombian capital are locked in their building and forced to meet a new deadline…of death. Toeing the company line has never been bloodier than in The Belko Experiment, inspiring this week’s gallery of 24 more of the worst companies to work for from film and television history.
Ratchet & Clank: Recently re-imagined for your PlayStation 4, now appearing on the big screen for the first time. The movie invites viewers back to see the origin team-up of the duo (one a robot, the other a bobcat-ish thing, probably a descendant of prolific serial killer Bubsy), which inspires this week’s 24 Frames gallery: a history of video games-based movies by Tomatometer!
The most successful horror franchises tend to feature protagonists audiences can root for — heroes that viewers hope will beat the odds and emerge from their respective situations victorious and, well, alive. With that in mind, we here at RT decided to look back at some of cinema’s most stubborn survivors, those characters that somehow managed to avoid being offed in multiple horror movies.
Needless to say, you may want to avoid what follows below if you’re allergic to spoilers. Without further ado, here are our choices for the Horror Movie Survivor Hall of Fame!
You can’t keep a good woman down. Case in point: Ellen Ripley. Even if she only survived two-and-three-quarters of the first three Alien films, the DNA in her blood cells was enough to create a pretty killer replica (which gives us all hope for future Chuck Norris clones, but we digress).
Ripley could have gone the way of Dr. Frank Poole a whole bunch of times throughout the series. As the only survivor of the Nostromo (not counting Jones the cat), she still could have been torn to shreds when the alien hid on her shuttle. In Aliens, Ripley and a few of her compatriots survived a tough battle with the Alien Queen aboard the Sulaco. Even a universe-saving suicide in Alien 3 barely slows Ripley down — the follow-up isn’t called Alien Resurrection for nothing. How does she do it? Our guess is those decades-long stasis naps do a body good.
You can possess him with a few demons. You can chop off his hand. Hell, you can even send him back through time. But the one thing you cannot do to Ashley “Ash” Williams: keep him down for good.The same can’t be said of Ash’s friends, who, in the first two Evil Deads offer up a survival rate of exactly zero. Ash is actually supposed to have died in the final frames of The Evil Dead, but the sequel retcons the whole thing, causing him to re-endure a gory getaway in the forest cabin. In the process, he loses his hand, but hey, chainsaw hand as replacement.
In the final Evil Dead, Army of Darkness, Ash is sent to 1300 AD. His only way to get back to the present time and his job at S-Mart: Going through a horde of the undead (led by an Ash clone) to retrieve the Necronomicon, the book of the dead. Groovy.
Some folks just don’t know when to quit. You’d think that Baron Victor von Frankenstein would reconsider his diabolical experiments in reanimation after nearly getting his dome lopped off in The Curse of Frankenstein, but no; this guy’s got a one-track mind. Unlike the Frankenstein of Mary Shelley and the Universal movies, our man Vic (played with eyebrow-raised relish by Peter Cushing) doesn’t evolve from hubristic to guilt-ridden — he’s pretty much a murderous mad scientist from minute one. After surviving the guillotine in The Curse of Frankenstein, the Baron continued his artificial life experiments in a bunch of Hammer films (either five or six, depending on whether you count the Cushing-free The Horror of Frankenstein as part of the cannon — many don’t). It’s pretty amazing that Frankenstein can perpetually stay one step ahead of death, given that angry townspeople, public officials, and even his own stitched-up creations are always trying to kill him.
The Friday the 13th series only had two protagonists who would carry themselves into sequels. The first was the original camp survivor who would be unceremoniously offed in Part II‘s opening sequence. The other: Tommy Jarvis. He first appeared in arguably the series’ best installment, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, as a young boy vacationing with his single mother and sister. With a penchant for masks, he and his sister succeed in confusing Jason, before Tommy is taken over by madness and hacks poor ol’ Jason Voorhees to death. The ambigious final shot of The Final Chapter suggests he has taken on an evil spirit.
In the godawful sequel, A New Beginning, Tommy is a taciturn mental patient, drifting in and out of institutions. As copycat murders begin around him, he suspects that his psychosis is taking over under the cover of night. Turns out the killer was just a disgruntled paramedic. In his final appearance, Jason Lives, Tommy attempts to tear Jason’s corpse asunder, but a steel pipe left in his heart attracts a bolt of lightning and Jason is resurrected. Ultimately, Tommy lures him back to the lake and to a watery grave. But we all know how long the dead stay dead in horror movies, don’t we?
It’s no wonder that Laurie Strode takes a breather every couple of Halloween installments; neither sleep nor time nor even a franchise reboot can rid her of Michael Myers. In the original Halloween, Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) survived the babysitting gig from hell, successfully keeping Michael Myers at bay (though he killed a couple of her friends). In Halloween II, she learned why she’d been stalked — it turned out that she was a blood relative of the knife-wielding psycho.
Laurie lay low for the next four Halloweens, but reemerged in Halloween H2O; she had faked her own death and changed her name, but she couldn’t stay hidden from her brother forever. Unfortunately, Myers finally got the best of Laurie in Halloween: Resurrection. Rob Zombie’s 2007 franchise reboot began at the beginning of the Laurie Strode story, with Scout Taylor-Compton stepping into the role; whether this incarnation of Laurie Strode shows the same survival instinct as the first remains to be seen.
Most psychology PhDs don’t receive gun training in school, tranquilizer or otherwise. Not sure about cursed zombie entrapment (that could be covered during mandatory intern hours), but Dr. Samuel James Loomis is somehow capable of all these things. At one point in Halloween 4, he agilely escaped death by diving behind some convenient barrels while his unkillable former patient took out a gas tank with a truck, causing a near-fatal explosion.
Dr. Loomis’ constant attempts at shooting Michael Myers really only impeded the guy’s momentum. It only took the first two films for Loomis to realize that bullets just wouldn’t work. At the end of II, he decided to be the martyr and blow both Michael and himself up using a combo of oxygen and ether.
Oh wait… but they both survive — somehow. Maybe Loomis got the explosive recipe wrong. But that’s great because then we got him for four more films! In those films we saw him use Michael’s female prey as bait to lure him into a trap consisting of a metal net, a tranquilizer gun, and his fists. But it was when he used his shrink skills to reason with the monster that we thought, “Oh yeah, that’s what he was trained to do.”
Puzzle boxes were all the rage in the 1980s. Of course, when Kirsty Cotton played with one, she suffered the consequences: the opening of another realm filled with sado-masochistic Cenobytes led by none other than Pinhead himself. Pinhead’s posse included Butterball, Chatterer, and the Female. After attacks from a deceptive dead-skin-wearing uncle, a group of deal-reneging “explorers” from another realm, and a stepmother hell-bent on devouring her boyfriend, Kirsty even withstood a trip to the Cenobyte realm. In Hellraiser III, she existed only through old interview footage, but she returned in Hellseeker with some gruesome tricks up her sleeve.
Being orphaned could inspire one to focus on new hobbies and interests, like mastering such a puzzle box, incidentally called the “Lament Configuration.” That, and a propensity for turning the tables on your loved ones, could be all you need to survive when confronted by violent unearthly beings that thrive on the pleasures of pain.
How exactly does one defeat a nemesis who manifests himself in the dream world and makes nightmares come true? Nancy Thompson seemed to have figured out the trick, but not before notorious burn victim Freddy Krueger dispatched a good number of her friends and family in gruesome ways.
After Freddy skewered her BFFs and effectively turned her boyfriend into a bloody geyser in the original Nightmare on Elm Street, Nancy somehow managed to escape, only to meet her end in Part 3: Dream Warriors. But here’s the kicker: Freddy actually came after the actress who played Nancy, Heather Langenkamp, in Wes Craven’s [very meta] New Nightmare, in which he also terrorized director Craven himself and the man who portrayed him in the movies, Robert Englund. Whoa… And maybe, you might think, a name change would help protect poor Nancy, but Freddy’s too smart for that.
Throughout all the twists and turns of the Saw franchise, one woman emerged as the series’ unlikely hero (seriously, the bad guys got waaay more screen time than the goodies): Jill Tuck, the ex-wife of serial killer Jigsaw. Jill was a rehabilitation clinic director who suffered a miscarriage after an assault from a junkie, prompting Jigsaw’s descent into madness.
Despite the Saw series’ brutally high body count, Jill survived five filmed appearances. After Jigsaw’s death in Saw III, she received a mysterious box via his will. For a while, her role as either protagonist or antagonist was up in the air, making her the most compelling character outside of Jigsaw himself. Then it was revealed her final role in Jigsaw’s twisted blueprint was to “test” his apprentice, crazy corrupt cop Mark Hoffman. Jill almost took him out, but was eventually killed in the final Saw with the infamous reverse bear trap.
A high-school-student-turned-college-student-turned-anchorwoman-turned-professional-boxer-turned-caregiver, Cindy Campbell knows how to throw down and maybe even snap some necks. Her response to a home-attack by Ghostface? What else? Throw a HOUSE PARTY! That would be the safest thing to do, right? But everyone ended up dead. Go figure. Her Matrix-like aerial fighting skills got her through another night, but could she survive a wedgie in Scary Movie 2? Turns out… she could and did!
This one was handy though. Only Cindy Campbell could MacGyver random objects into a tractor, allowing her to crash through the door of a refrigerator she was locked in. Even a UN nude-ray couldn’t stop this savvy ingénue. At one point, an alien Command tripod ensnared her with Venus flytraps in a grimy old bathroom, and she was instructed to find the key to free herself and her friend Brenda. The key was located behind her eye, but it wasn’t a problem for Cindy. She’s got a glass eye (old bar fight injury).
Cindy has survived a lot. She’s slick and sagacious. But we’re still not sure whether she’s still with us, since she sat out Scary Movie 5.
Poor Sidney Prescott. She survived an entire franchise dedicated to her demise, and it really all came down to reasons that were far beyond her control. What’s that saying about “the sins of the father” (or, in this case, mother)? Yeah, Sidney sort of represents the epitome of the adage.
Consider this: Sidney’s own boyfriend, Billy, played the long con on her and ultimately tried to off her in the first Scream because Sidney’s mom broke apart his parents’ marriage — yikes. But it got worse: who should come around for revenge in Scream 2 but Billy’s mom herself, understandably upset, along with an accomplice who just wanted to be famous for killing Sidney. Scream 3 saw Sidney terrorized by a half brother she never knew she had, upset about being rejected by their mother, and 4‘s Ghostface Killer turned out to be Sidney’s own cousin, itching to get a taste of Sidney’s fame. Sidney is safe and sound as of now, of course, but you never know; there might be a great granduncle or a step-niece just rarin’ for a go at her.
At first, it wouldn’t appear that the Umbrella Corporation of the Resident Evil films planned very well for a possible outbreak of their zombifying T-virus. In fact, the soldiers sent to Umbrella’s secret lab in 2002’s Resident Evil spent most of their time simply trying to survive.
But even in the face of this population-decimating epidemic, there was one particular survivor who eventually went on the offensive for the good of all mankind, and her name was Alice. The folks at Umbrella must have spotted her potential, too, because in Apocalypse (2004), they outfitted Alice with some genetic modifications, and in Extinction (2007), they even cloned her in hopes of building a butt-kicking army. She’s survived attacks by all kinds of mutations, speedy, strong, and grotesque, but she hasn’t fallen yet. Alice and Umbrella both know the whole ordeal is Umbrella’s fault, and her quest to bring them to justice continues through to the franchise’s sixth installment, which is scheduled to open next year.
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is out in theaters this week, inspiring this week’s 24 Frames gallery: a visual bloody guide to the history of zombies in film and on your television. Brrraaaaaiinnsss….
Rotten Tomatoes Radio is expanding to two shows a week! Starting today, we’ll be adding a Tuesday show, where RT staff talks in depth about the past weekend’s releases and we want you to join the conversation. If you have something you’d like to get off your chest about Resident Evil: Retribution, call us at 888-996-2946.
We’ll also be airing interviews with Blythe Danner and the cast of For a Good Time, Call…, along with a rundown of all the new films on home video and a final box office report. Be sure to tune in at 4PM PST/7PM EST on SiriusXM channel 104!
This weekend, two new 3D films from well-known brands led a box office rebound after last week’s atrocious performance as the action sequel Resident Evil: Retribution opened at number one followed by the re-release of Finding Nemo 3D which settled for the runner-up spot. But despite the arrival of a pair of very different new films, the overall marketplace remained in the doldrums suffering double digit losses compared to the same frame from the last few years.
Opening well in the top spot, Sony’s Resident Evil: Retribution took the box office crown with an estimated $21.1M from 3,012 locations for a good $7,005 average, helped by higher prices from 3D and IMAX screens. The R-rated fifth chapter in the decade-old sci-fi action series became the fourth consecutive film in the franchise to open at number one – always in the month of September when competition is light.
However, the latest Alice adventure did suffer a 21% drop from the $26.7M bow of 2010’s Afterlife which was also in 3D. In terms of admissions, it was the lowest performance ever in the Milla Jovovich series. Audience erosion is common for franchises heading into their fifth installments – if they get that far – and consumers have become less impressed with 3D now.
Studio research showed that 64% of the audience was male and 55% was over 25. Reviews were weak and the CinemaScore grade was a disappointing C+ so the usual fast fade is likely next weekend. Retribution did make good use of the extra dimension as 66% of the gross came from 3D plus IMAX and other large-format screens.
But the main reason new Resident Evil films get financed is that they make a killing overseas. Afterlife grossed a stellar $296M worldwide (by far the best in the series) with a towering 80% coming from outside of North America. Retribution is well on its way towards the same lofty levels thanks to its debut in 50 territories this weekend which grossed an estimated $50M, up 28% from the debuts from the same markets from that last installment. Japan led the way with $10.3M (15% bigger than Afterlife and bigger than The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises) followed by Russia with $8.5M (20% better). Not all markets were eager to see Alice again. Korea debuted to $2.4M (25% less than Afterlife) while Australia bowed to a weak $1.5M (down 23%). Most Asian and Latin American markets, however, saw Retribution open better than Afterlife.
Disney’s latest effort to mine its lucrative library for more cash came in the form of the 3D re-release of Pixar’s Finding Nemo which debuted in second place with an estimated $17.5M from 2,904 locations for a commendable $6,028 average. The G-rated modern classic did about half the business that the Mouse House saw a year ago this weekend with its 3D upgrade for The Lion King which bowed at number one with $30.2M on its way to $94.2M. Instead, Nemo was in the same neighborhood as January’s Beauty and the Beast 3D release which debuted to $17.8M heading to a $47.6M finish. The idea of re-releasing a 3D version of a popular blockbuster from recent decades has become more common and no longer as special as it was even just one year ago.
The fish flick raised its lifetime domestic gross to $357.2M and climbed up three notches to number 21 on the list of all-time blockbusters just ahead of Jurassic Park. Spielberg’s 1993 dinosmash, of course, sold plenty of more tickets. Pixar next has Monsters, Inc. on deck for the 3D treatment with its re-release set for this holiday season on December 19 which hopes to reinvigorate the brand ahead of next summer’s prequel, Monsters University. The first five films from the computer animation pioneer have all been getting 3D re-releases with the notable exception of 1998’s A Bug’s Life, the company’s lowest grosser. Disney will revert back to its traditional archives for this weekend next year with its 3D upgrade to 1989’s The Little Mermaid swimming into theaters.
Two-time chart-topper The Possession fell to third place but once again posted a hold that was quite impressive for a horror film. The Lionsgate release grossed an estimated $5.8M, off just 38%, boosting the 17-day cume to $41.2M. It has taken advantage of a major void in the marketplace for fright films. Also staying sturdy in its third round was the crime drama Lawless which slipped only 30% to an estimated $4.2M giving The Weinstein Co. $30.1M to date.
The rest of the films in the top ten fell within a tight $600,000 range so chart rankings may change when final numbers are reported on Monday. Focus saw its toon ParaNorman dip just 28% to an estimated $3M while Lionsgate’s action sequel The Expendables 2 fell 39% to the same gross. Totals are $49.3M and $80.3M, respectively.
Declining by a reasonable 39% in its second weekend was the Bradley Cooper drama The Words with an estimated $2.9M for a $9.2M sum after ten days for CBS Films. Universal’s spy sequel The Bourne Legacy took in an estimated $2.9M as well, off 28%, for a $107.8M total. Dipping 31% to an estimated $2.5M was Disney’s family film The Odd Life of Timothy Green and rounding out the top ten was Will Ferrell’s comedy The Campaign with an estimated $2.4M, dropping 29%. Cumes stand at $46.3M and $82.9M.
Updated domestic/worldwide totals for some of the summer’s biggest hits are $622.2M/$1.51B for The Avengers, $441M/$1.06B for The Dark Knight Rises, $217.4M/$406.4M for Ted, $215.6M/$620.3M for Madagascar 3, and $157.9M/$838.9M for Ice Age: Continental Drift.
Generating a jaw-dropping gross in its platform debut, Paul Thomas Anderson’s new drama The Master lured in an estimated $730,000 from only five runs in New York and Los Angeles giving it an eye-popping $146,000 average per theater. That was enough to break the record for biggest opening weekend average for a regular live-action release easily beating out the $130,749 of last May’s Moonrise Kingdom from Wes Anderson. The five theaters reported sell outs everyday and most triple-screened the film (16 screens total) offering up to 14 showtimes daily to accommodate the large arthouse crowds that were expected for the filmmaker’s follow-up to There Will Be Blood which was a major Oscar contender five years ago and won Daniel-Day Lewis his second Best Actor statue.
The Master, starring Joaquin Phoenix as a disenfranchised soldier and Philip Seymour Hoffman as the charismatic cult leader who takes him in, stormed in with an avalanche of film festival buzz thanks to awards in Venice and a big premiere in Toronto. Strong reviews and a well-respected cast also helped. Moonrise Kingdom followed a similar strategy when it opened Cannes last May and then quickly followed with a U.S. platform debut ahead of a very lucrative summer run that has now brought it up to $44.9M. The Master, however, does not have the mainstream appeal of Moonrise and so venturing outside the safety of the arthouse crowd will be a challenge. The Weinstein Co. hopes to leverage the opening weekend’s success as it goes nationwide this Friday into 600-800 theaters, an aggressive move for a specialty title.
Also faring well in its limited bow was the corporate thriller Arbitrage starring Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon with an estimated $2.1M from only 197 playdates for a solid $10,508 average. The R-rated Roadside Attractions release earned good reviews. Panned by film critics was the war veteran drama Last Ounce of Courage which debuted to an estimated $1.7M from 1,407 theaters for a feeble $1,214 average for Rocky Mountain.
Elsewhere among notable releases, Paramount followed its one-week IMAX run with a conventional release for the remastered version of Raiders of the Lost Ark and collected an estimated $400,000 from 322 locations for a mild $1,242 average. The 31-year-old adventure film has banked $2.8M during this re-release. The Indiana Jones series debuts on Blu-ray this Tuesday. The controversial non-fiction pic 2016 Obama?s America broke the $30M mark this weekend and ranks as the second highest-grossing political documentary of all-time after Michael Moore’s 2004 juggernaut Fahrenheit 9/11. It has also passed the nature flick Chimpanzee and the music pic Katy Perry: Part Of Me to become the top-grossing doc of any kind this year.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $65.4M which was down 21% from last year when The Lion King 3D debuted at number one with $30.2M; and down 23% from 2010 when The Town opened on top with $23.8M.
When the apocalypse comes, the only things likely to survive will be cockroaches and the Resident Evil franchise. Unfortunately, Resident Evil: Retribution wasn’t screened for U.S. critics prior to its release, so we can’t tell you how it stacks up with its four (critically panned) predecessors. This time out, Alice (Milla Jovovich) takes her fight against the Umbrella Corporation and its hordes of flesh-eating zombies from Japan to America to Russia, learning secrets about her mysterious past along the way. Hey, everyone – it’s time to guess the Tomatometer! (And check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run down some noteworthy fifth installments.)
Pixar doesn’t lack for masterpieces, but Finding Nemo 3D is a jewel that shines particularly brightly in the studio’s crown. Upon its release in 2003, it drew raves from the critics and was Pixar’s biggest box-office hit until Toy Story 3 came along. Now it’s getting the 3D treatment, so audiences can once again bask in this Certified Fresh modern classic about a clownfish on a mission to rescue his son from captivity.
Step Up To The Plate, a documentary about a legendary chef passing the family business on to his son, is at 44 percent.
Sequels! We love to complain about them, but clearly, we can’t get enough of ’em — or at least that’s the message we keep sending at the box office, where they seem to take up a greater percentage of the grosses every year. Of course, nothing lasts forever, and when it comes to film franchises, the audience’s fondness for the characters tends to run out around the third film — but there are some notable exceptions, such as the Resident Evil series, which makes its fifth(!) trip to the big screen this weekend with Resident Evil: Retribution. In honor of this momentous achievement, we decided to take a look at other fifth installments, and came up with a list that’s more impressive (and less reliant on horror sequels) than you might think. One, two, three, four, five: this Total Recall’s working overtime!
Why Five? Mainly because the execs at 20th Century Fox couldn’t help themselves — even though the Planet of the Apes sequels had been a study in diminishing box office returns, the films were still cheap enough to make that they all turned a healthy profit, so a fifth installment was more or less inevitable.
Franchise Changes: As the ticket receipts slowed for the series, the studio’s purse strings tightened, making Battle for the Planet of the Apes a rather cheap-looking affair; in addition, screenwriter Paul Dehn, who’d written the second, third, and fourth films, had to bow out — although he was later brought in to polish the eventual script, resulting in a cobbled-together story (and an eventual credit tussle in front of the WGA).
The End? Sort of, although Apes lived on as a pair of TV series before returning to the screen in 2001 (with Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes remake) and 2011 (the series reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes).
Why Five? Because the fourth Dirty Harry movie, 1983’s Sudden Impact, was the highest-grossing in the series, raking in nearly $70 million in the U.S. while spawning the endlessly parroted catchphrase “Go ahead — make my day” and proving that when you have a squinty guy with a gun, the sequels pretty much write themselves.
Franchise Changes: Each Dirty Harry movie has a different director, and The Dead Pool was no different; Buddy Van Horn, a onetime stunt double for Clint Eastwood who went on to direct him in a number of films, steps in here. Other than that, Pool adheres pretty strictly to the formula (which is exactly as it should be).
The End? Yes. Despite having a prime summer opening slot, Pool went down as the least profitable entry in the series, and Dirty Harry Callahan was finally allowed to retire — although not before sharing screen time with the members of Guns N’ Roses and a young Jim Carrey.
Why Five? Because even over the age of 70 (and just a few years away from hip replacement surgery), Charles Bronson wasn’t finished with the Death Wish series — and there were still people willing to cut a check to make another sequel happen.
Franchise Changes: Habitual vigilante Paul Kersey (Bronson) is now a member of the Witness Protection Program, which has given him a new alias (and bizarrely decided to move him back to New York City, site of the original Death Wish and Death Wish 3). Other than that, not much has changed — there are bad guys who need killing, and Kersey’s there to help.
The End? Most definitely — Bronson was much too old to convincingly portray an action hero, and the box office returns for Death Wish V were awful. Still, every so often, someone floats the idea of a remake; although Sylvester Stallone apparently thought better of it after publicly mulling taking over the series in 2006, it seems likely that someone will eventually (ahem) pull the trigger.
Why Five? Because just when it seemed like the Fast and Furious franchise had run its course — or at least veered off into a Bring It On-style series of endless, vaguely connected sequels — 2009’s Fast & Furious pulled it back on course with a $363 million hit that reunited members of the original cast. Clearly, it couldn’t stop there.
Franchise Changes: Well, it added Dwayne Johnson and sent the action to Rio. But other than that, this series has a formula that you don’t alter — fast cars, furious drivers — and Fast Five reaped more than $625 million in exchange for not messing with it.
The End? Nope — Fast Six is scheduled to roar into theaters on May 24, 2013.
Why Five? People like watching teenagers die ugly, apparently.
Franchise Changes: The vast majority of the cast members in any Destination movie don’t last long enough to pop up again in a sequel, so fans know each film is going to give them a whole new crop of victims. This time around, one small wrinkle was introduced in the form of some advice from recurring character Coroner Bludworth (Tony Todd), who reveals that anyone who cheats Death has to claim someone else’s life in order to stay alive.
The End? It remains to be seen, although the last installment’s $157 million worldwide gross would seem to suggest future Destinations in store.
Why Five? The fourth Friday the 13th was billed as “the final chapter,” but the enduring commercial popularity of the series meant it was only a year before a hockey mask-wearing maniac would once more terrorize the randy teens of Crystal Lake.
Franchise Changes: This Friday lives up to its “A New Beginning” subtitle by leaving Jason Voorhees dead and buried, instead imagining a grim future for young Tommy Jarvis, his killer in Part 4. Now grown up and played by John Shepherd, the understandably troubled Tommy is sent to a camp for wayward teens — only to find himself forced to contend with a wave of killings perpetrated by a seemingly revived Jason.
The End? Absolutely not — the Friday the 13th movies would continue to provide teen scream fodder throughout the 1980s, 1990s, and aughts, sending Jason to Manhattan, Hell, and outer space before pitting him against Freddy Krueger (more on that guy later) and ultimately rebooting the series with 2009’s Friday the 13th.
Why Five? Because Michael Myers needed to get revenge, silly. Also, 1988’s Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers put the slasher franchise back on track (after 1982’s Myers-free Halloween III: Season of the Witch), and producer Moustapha Akkad wanted to keep the gravy train rolling.
Franchise Changes: While the ending of Halloween 4 suggested that Myers’ niece Jamie (Danielle Harris) was going to follow in his serial-killing footsteps, Halloween 5 mostly stuck to the established formula of having Myers begin the film in some sort of coma, wake up in late October, and embark on a murderous rampage. One significant twist this time around was the introduction of the Man in Black, a Myers accomplice whose purpose would eventually be revealed in Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers.
The End? Nope. Like Myers himself, the Halloween franchise just keeps lumbering along, with H20 and Halloween: Resurrection following in 1998 and 2002, and the Rob Zombie-directed reboots Halloween and Halloween II hitting theaters in 2007 and 2009. We’re sure we haven’t seen the last of Michael Myers.
Why Five? Because J.K. Rowling wrote seven Harry Potter books — and with each film adaptation grossing an average of nearly $300 million in the United States alone, there was no way we weren’t going to see all seven of them on the big screen.
Franchise Changes: The fifth Potter film brought a new director (David Yates) and screenwriter (Michael Goldenberg), as well as the franchise’s first foray into IMAX 3D; in terms of casting, it marked the first appearances of Helena Bonham Carter as the gleefully wicked Bellatrix Lestrange, as well as Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood. A fair amount of change — but it didn’t put a dent in the reviews, which were again largely positive, or the box office tally, which topped out near $940 million worldwide.
The End? No; in fact, thanks to Warner Bros.’ decision to split the series-concluding Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows into two chapters, the film franchise went on to outnumber the books.
Why Five? Because the Muppets had been missing from the big screen for too long — their last appearance was in Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird — and after Jim Henson’s untimely death in 1990, the company that bears his name needed to prove that the show must go on. What better way than with a Muppetized interpretation of the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol?
Franchise Changes: Apart from the obvious major change — Steve Whitmire stepping in as the voice of Kermit the Frog in Henson’s absence — Carol also finds human actors figuring in more prominently than previous Muppet movies. An annoying development for hardcore fans, perhaps, but one mitigated by the presence of Michael Caine, who lent his signature charm to the role of Ebenezer Scrooge.
The End? Certainly not. Although the Muppets’ box office fortunes weren’t exactly spectacular during the 1990s, and they spent the early aughts absent from theaters, they returned in a big way with 2011’s The Muppets — and with a sequel in development, we should be seeing more of them soon.
Why Five? It was occasionally rather clumsily handled, but the Nightmare on Elm Street series actually used its first few sequels to establish a deepening mythology around the character of Freddy Krueger — one which unfortunately took a turn into the excessively silly and convoluted with 1989’s The Dream Child.
Franchise Changes: Freddy’s mother, Amanda Krueger, was more of a presence in Dream Child, which picks up a year after A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master left off and finds Freddy using the unborn fetus in the womb of his previous adversary, Alice Johnson (Lisa Wilcox), to reach out into the dream world and claim new victims.
The End? Impossible as it might seem, the Elm Street producers actually found somewhere else to go after the storyline described above, putatively wrapping up the franchise with 1991’s Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare before bringing the character back for the cleverly meta Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, the 2003 mashup Freddy vs. Jason, and 2010’s Jackie Earle Haley-led A Nightmare on Elm Street reboot. Is Freddy finally dead? We doubt it.
Why Five? Because even without Steve Guttenberg starring as the wisecracking Mahoney, the Police Academy series was one of the most reliable moneymakers of the 1980s — and with a returning ensemble that included Michael Winslow, Bubba Smith, G.W. Bailey, and George Gaynes, Assignment Miami Beach still managed to debut at the top of the box office charts.
Franchise Changes: Aside from the notable lack of Guttenberg (and Bobcat Goldthwait), which necessitated the introduction of Matt McCoy as Sgt. Nick Lassard, the biggest change was one of location — the gang headed to sunny Florida for a visit to the National Police Chiefs Convention, which of course turned into a laff-a-minute mixup with some local jewel thieves.
The End? Not at all. The movies continued through 1994’s Police Academy 7: Mission to Moscow, and the franchise spilled over into a pair of TV series (one syndicated, one animated), plus a pending series reboot.
Why Five? From a narrative standpoint, it’s hard to say, really. While the first four Rocky movies had their bumpy spots, they were all feel-good stories about faith and redemption — the increasingly over-the-top saga of a guy from the streets who fought his way to the top — while the fifth installment managed to be darker and more depressing while also finding a way to be cheesier. It really all boiled down to money; as Sylvester Stallone put it a few years ago when asked about Rocky V, “I’m greedy, what can I tell you?”
Franchise Changes:Rocky V picks up at the end of Rocky IV, with the Italian Stallion going from defeating the Soviet champ, Ivan Drago, to discovering he has brain damage — and that his accountant has bankrupted him. Rocky’s new shot at redemption turns out to be managing a younger boxer (Tommy Morrison), but their relationship is complicated by the advances of a Don King-esque promoter (Richard Gant), and the whole thing culminates in a poorly staged street brawl.
The End? For a long time, it seemed that way, but to Stallone’s credit, Rocky V nagged at him for years, until he finally gave his most famous character the sendoff he deserved with 2006’s warmly received Rocky Balboa.
Why Five? Because by 2008, the Saw films had become an annual Halloween tradition for filmgoers who like some thrillingly devious on-screen torture with their popcorn — and because we were just starting to figure out what made the Jigsaw Killer (Tobin Bell) tick.
Franchise Changes: With the Jigsaw Killer dead at the end of Saw III, the story started to spiral off into (somewhat) new directions in Saw IV, continuing into the fifth installment, which traced the steps leading up to a police detective (Costas Mandylor) becoming Jigsaw’s apprentice.
The End? Nope — the series continued up through Saw 3D, which concluded the grisly saga with an extra dimension in 2010.
Why Five? Because if you’re lucky enough to get away with making a hit movie about a psychotic doll possessed with the soul of a serial killer, you might as well keep the sequels coming until people stop showing up.
Franchise Changes: After three installments of relatively straightforward horror, the series went off the deep end with Bride of Chucky, which introduced Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly), an ex-girlfriend from Chucky’s human years who winds up also becoming a living doll. The lunacy continued with Seed of Chucky, which follows the adventures of Chucky, Tiffany, and their offspring Glen (or Glenda).
The End? Yes and no. Although the next sequel, Curse of Chucky, is heading straight to video, there’s also a rumored franchise reboot in the works, so Brad Dourif should be busy with homicidal voicework for years to come.
Why Five? Because 1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home turned whales and nuclear wessels into a $133 million hit, and with Star Trek: The Next Generation earning healthy ratings, Trek mania was near its peak.
Franchise Changes: After Leonard Nimoy directed the franchise’s well-received third and fourth installments, William Shatner stepped behind the cameras for the fifth, which finds the crew of the Enterprise entering deep space in search of God (or something).
The End? According to Trek legend, The Final Frontier nearly destroyed the franchise — and although the story came from an idea of Shatner’s, it wasn’t entirely his fault; Frontier was plagued by all manner of problems, from a writer’s strike to set problems and studio interference. Still, the end result was the same: An ignominious box office flop and triple Golden Raspberry winner whose odor would linger until the release of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country in 1991.
Why Five? Because ever since Star Wars fans heard about the Clone Wars — way back in A New Hope — we’d been waiting to see just what the heck they were. Also, there’s no way the series could have ended with The Phantom Menace.
Franchise Changes: It’s here that we get our first glimpse of Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker — as well as some of his earliest struggles with the rage that made him such an attractive recruit for the evil Sith. With plenty of interplanetary jetsetting and an epic battle sequence, it’s also the longest installment in the Star Wars series.
The End? Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo — we all lined up to watch the saga conclude with Revenge of the Sith in 2005.
Why Five? Because when your main character is a suave secret agent with a license to kill, the possibilities are limitless — just ask the folks who are already impatient to see the next James Bond movie in November.
Franchise Changes: Sean Connery was getting tired of playing Bond, but he agreed to come back for You Only Live Twice, which represented the first time a 007 movie had deviated strongly from the Ian Fleming source novel. Unlike a lot of the other Bond flicks, Twice doesn’t include a lot of globetrotting — spacejacking opening sequence notwithstanding — but it still makes room for an iconic villain (Donald Pleasance as Blofeld) and memorable love interest (Mie Hama as Kissy Suzuki).
The End? Not even close. He’s had some rough patches, but as of this writing, Bond is as cool as ever, and his 23rd adventure, Skyfall, is one of fall 2012’s most eagerly anticipated releases.