One wonders how many of the millions of people who went to see Resident Evil: Afterlife this weekend actually have any investment in this woebegone franchise, and for how many the notion of a new Resident Evil film simply stands for something that they want, namely hyped-up, futuristic zombie-killing action. I mean, I've seen the first three films (not yet the fourth, though I will eventually go, against my better judgment), but I'll be damned if I have any idea where the saga of Alice, the Umbrella Corporation, et al., currently stands. All I remember is that the third movie was directed by Russell Mulcahy (Highlander), which at the time I found sort of humorously appropriate.

Anyway, Afterlife had the traditionally slow post-Labor Day weekend to itself, and it capitalized. Its $27.7 million take is a franchise record, and the film, shot in apparently gorgeous 3D, will surely turn a profit. (If you're skeptical, be advised that each of the first three films handily outperformed its fair-to-middling domestic take overseas.) And since there is absolutely nothing (at least plotwise) stopping Sony from churning out installment after Resident Evil installment, we can all look forward to nos. 5, 6, etc., ad inf.

There's not much else to report. Last weekend's big debuts, The American and Machete, niche-y to begin with (and correspondingly low-cost, which is good), took the expected second-weekend hits. Takers is the first post-summer success story, sticking around second place and heading toward $60 million domestic. The Last Exorcism has not held up nearly so well, but, having no budget, it's done its job.

The chart after the jump.



1 - Resident Evil: Afterlife (Screen Gems) - $27.7 ($8,648) - new - $27.7
2 - Takers (Screen Gems) - $6.1 ($2,784) - 44% - $48.1
3 - The American (Focus) - $5.9 ($2,081) - 55% - $26.7
4 - Machete (Fox) - $4.2 ($1,568) - 63% - $20.8
5 - Going the Distance (New Line) - $3.8 ($1,266) - 44% - $14.0
6 - The Other Guys (Sony) - $2.6 ($1,603) - 32% - $112.7
7 - The Last Exorcism (Lionsgate) - $3.5 ($1,263) - 53% - $38.2
8 - The Expendables (Lionsgate) - $3.3 ($1,063) - 51% - $98.5
9 - Inception (Warner Bros.) - $3.0 ($1,905) - 34% - $282.4
10 - Eat Pray Love (Sony) - $2.9 ($1,240) - 40% - $74.6

Next week: A pair of well-reviewed TIFF premiers (The Town and Easy A), Lionsgate's 3D kidflick Alpha and Omega, and the movie I'm pinning my hopes on -- the victim of the dreaded and patented "Shyamalan groan" -- Devil.