Moviegoers Game for Resident Evil

Sony ScreenGem’s effects-filled zombie sequel, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, came out shooting over the weekend, raking in $23 million to dethrone Miramax’s Jet Li vehicle, Hero. Meanwhile, New Line Cinema’s suspense thriller, Cellular, starring Kim Basinger and Jason Statham debuted at No. 2 with a lackluster $10 million.

Based on CAPCOM’s hugely popular video game series, Resident Evil: Apocalypse takes viewers back to Raccoon City, where a contained virus breaks loose and threatens to turn the city into a zombie nightmare. Milla Jovovich is back as Alice, a genetically enhanced ghoul dueler who helps a small group of special forces operatives escape the quarantine zone. The film features effects by Mr. X and Animated Extras International under visual effects supervisor Alison O’Brien. Witt and O’Brien discuss the making of the film in the September issue of Animation Magazine.

Apocalypse was expected to perform below its 2002 predecessor, which opened at $17 million on its way to $100 million worldwide. The sequel is already on track to surpass that.

After two weeks on top Hero drops to No. 4 behind paramount’s Without a Paddle, which has enjoyed an impressive run in the top five for the past four weeks. The buddy comedy barely edged out Hero with $4.5 million. The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement rounds out the top five with $2.9 milion for the weekend and a cumulative $89.2 million.