How do you define a hit? What's more important: total gross or actual audience enthusiasm? The answer to this question will help us decide who actually won the weekend. Call it the "Battle of the Paul Andersons": Paul WS Anderson's 'Resident Evil: Retribution' and Paul Thomas Anderson's 'The Master' both opened this week and both had completely different results, but they beg to be compared to each other.

FilmWeekendPer ScreenTotal
1 Resident Evil: Retribution
2Finding Nemo 3D$17,504,000$6,028 $17,504,000
3 The Possession$5,800,000 (-37.8)$2,028$41,167,000
4Lawless $4,219,000 (-29.8)$1,377 $30,141,000
5 ParaNorman$3,039,000 (-27.6)
$1,307 $49,336,000
6The Expendables 2
$3,030,000 (-38.8)$1,046 $80,290,000
7The Words $2,880,000 (-39.4)$1,028$9,160,000
8The Bourne Legacy $2,875,00 (-27.6)$1,325 $107,817,000
9 The Odd Life of Timothy Green$2,511,000 (-31.2)$1,040$46,284,000
10The Campaign$2,405,000 (-28.8)$1,201$82,857,000


Let's first take a look at the more obvious winner, shall we?

'Resident Evil: Retribution' opened exactly where it needed to open, effortlessly claiming the number one spot. It's a specialty of this franchise: open in the September doldrums and make minor bank. Repeat two years later. Each of the five 'Resident Evil' films have opened in the $20 million range (the first film opened the lowest at $17 million and 'Resident Evil: Afterlife' opened the highest at $26 million). The four previous films each went on to make between $40 and $60 million, which is just enough to secure the next film. Since history is repeating itself yet again, expect 'Resident Evil: Retribution' to close out with $58 million or so in the bank and then expect 'Resident Evil 6' in September of 2014.

But let's take a look at the other Anderson film. 'The Master' opened on five screens this weekend in limited release (it expands next weekend) and from those five screens, it made $703,000. That's $146,000 per screen. That's a limited release record, folks. For comparison's sake, 'Resident Evil: Retribution' opened on 3,012 screens and made $7,005 per screen.

So, which one is the winner of the week: the film that opened at at a slightly flimsy number one because there was nothing to challenge it or the film that opened at number eighteen and sold out each and every one of its locations?

'Resident Evil: Retribution' may top the list, but let's face facts folks: the real success here is 'The Master.'

There was one other wide release this weekend and it provided perfect counter programming for the adults-only 'The Master' and the teenagers/dumb-adults-only 'Resident Evil.' 'Finding Nemo' returned to theaters nine years after its debut to thrill a new generation of Pixar fans who probably weren't alive in 2003. Despite a DVD copy surely being the home of every family in North America, Marlin and company (now in 3D, of course) snatched the number two slot with $17 million. Thus is the power of Pixar.

Those three success stories aside, the rest of the box office was more of the same. 'The Possession' took a steep drop, but it's made what it's going to make and everyone is happy with this return (horror is cheap, after all). 'Lawless' took advantage of the slow month to pass $30 million, which isn't bad considering its lackluster opening. The film wasn't cheap, but it also didn't cost an arm and leg. Wounds are being licked, but everyone is coming out of this one able to work again. 'ParaNorman' continued to be a minor success story, only dropping 27%. It'll pass $50 million in a day or two. The positive word of mouth has given 'ParaNorman' legs, but we can't help but wonder how this spooky-but-kid-friendly would have done if released closer to Halloween (but then it would've to contended with 'Frankenweenie').

'The Expendables 2' took in another $3 million and crawled past $80 million (solid, but a definite drop from part one). 'The Words' took in $2 million and is ready to vanish from the box office list forever (Bradley Cooper must be counting his blessings that the acclaimed 'Silver Linings Playbook' is out in a few months). With $107 million, 'The Bourne Legacy' is still chasing the gross of the first film in the series (but 'Bourne 5' is still a certainty). 'The Odd Life of Timothy Green' should hit $50 million by next week and it will gracefully bow out (having surpassed everyone's expectations). Finally, 'The Campaign' won't hit $100 million, but somewhere in the high 80s isn't bad at all.

Next week, we get a pretty solid refresh of movies: 'Dredd' for the action fans, 'End of Watch' for the crime fans and 'Trouble With the Curve' for people who like baseball and yelling at chairs. Expect 'Dredd' to edge out 'Resident Evil' for that top spot.

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