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Milla Jovovich leads weekend box office, ahead of 'Finding Nemo' 3D

Milla Jovovich, in 'Resident Evil:Retribution' brought in $21.1 million in the US, edging out the release of 'Finding Nemo' in 3D. Milla Jovovich's husband, Paul W.S. Anderson, has made three of the five 'Resident Evil' films

By Christy LemireAssociated Press / September 17, 2012

Milla Jovovich, left, and Paul W.S. Anderson attend the US premiere of "Resident Evil: Retribution" in Los Angeles. The film made $50 million overseas during the opening weekend, $21.1 million in the US.

(Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

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Los Angeles

The No. 1 film at the box office was "Resident Evil: Retribution," which took in an estimated $21.1 million in its debut. This is the fifth film in the Sony Screen Gems action franchise, starring Milla Jovovich.

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That topped the 3-D re-release of the Disney Pixar animated favorite "Finding Nemo," which opened in second place with $17.5 million.

The 3-D "Resident Evil: Retribution" was directed by Milla Jovovich's husband, Paul W.S. Anderson, who has made three of the five films. It features the actress once again as the warrior Alice, the last hope for the human race as an evil corporation unleashes a deadly virus that creates more flesh-eating undead on a worldwide scale. And fittingly, the film performed even better internationally, where it made a healthy $50 million.

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"You have to give so much credit for that to Milla," said Rory Bruer, Sony's head of distribution. "She's such an incredible star and absolutely just works so hard in every country. Whether it's Russia or Japan, everywhere she's gone, she's worked so hard in regards to making the franchise a success."

The re-do of "Finding Nemo" follows in a recent tradition of Disney converting its classic animated movies into 3-D for a whole new audience. The 2003 underwater comedy about a tiny, lost fish named Nemo, featuring the voices of Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres and Willem Dafoe, won the Academy Award for best animated feature.

Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com, said the No. 1-opening for the latest "Resident Evil" movie came as a bit of a surprise. He figured "Finding Nemo" would come out on top, given the track record of the Pixar brand and the strong opening a year ago of Disney's "The Lion King" in 3-D, which debuted at No. 1 with $30.1 million.

"The Screen Gems label, they know how to create a profit-making franchise," Dergarabedian said. "It's become so important if you have a star who resonates in the international marketplace — you can have a real winner worldwide."

Last week's No. 1 movie, the Lionsgate exorcism thriller "The Possession," fell to third place with an estimated $5.8 million. It's now made about $41.2 million over the past three weeks.

Among the other new movies this weekend, "Arbitrage" opened in 12th place in limited release with nearly $2.1 million. Richard Gere stars as a hedge-fund billionaire juggling scandals that could destroy him personally and professionally.

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