Sony zombie franchise film breaks records

TOKYO — Sony Pictures Entertainment is celebrating as “Resident Evil III” opened Nov. 3-4 with a chart-topping ¥598 million ($5.24 million) on 330 screens. This is 17% more than the first weekend B.O. of the previous “Resident Evil” pic, which went on to gross $23.7 million in Japan.

Also packing them in was second place “Always 2,” the sequel to the smash 2005 nostalgic drama set in 1958 Tokyo. Back with the same helmer, Takashi Yamazaki, and main cast, the pic grabbed $4.74 million for its first weekend, or nearly 2.5 times the bow of the first pic, which finished with $28 million.

The four top pics at the weekend B.O., including No. 3, romantic drama “Koizora,” and No. 4, Takashi Miike’s school gang-wars pic “Crows,” cleared a total of $17.5 million. This figure hasn’t been seen since the second week of July, at the height of the summer season, when “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” and domestic smashes “Monkey Magic” and “Pokemon” were vying for top spot.

With the holiday season still ahead and bigger weekend numbers yet to come, a once less-than-stellar 2007 may turn out to be a banner year after all, for both Hollywood majors and the Japanese home team.

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