By Adam B. Vary
Updated July 30, 2020 at 05:30 PM EDT

Image Credit: RafyAfter a typically slow Labor Day weekend, the only major release for the first frame of the fall is Resident Evil: Apocal… I mean Extinc… I mean Afterlife. The durable zombie thriller franchise has some tricky competition — Machete, Takers, The Last Exorcism, and even The Expendables could sap some of its audience — but I still expect it to emerge victorious for the Sept. 10 weekend. (And believe you me, given my embarrassing predictions for last week’s triple-header, I am grateful for the impending weekend’s simplified release schedule.) Here’s how I see the numbers shaking out:

1. Resident Evil: Afterlife$24.5 million

Beyond the fact that it appears the film is a series of shots of star Milla Jovovich handling various firearms, all you apparently need to know about the fourth film in the franchise is that it has zombies and it’s in 3-D. Screen Gems’ marketing has practically made the latter the film’s single selling point, which could be risky at a time when 3-D fatigue is creeping into the marketplace. Still, if ever there was a reliable genre for three dimensions, it’s horror, and the last two Resident Evil films have dependably opened to around $23 million. Factoring in elevated 3-D ticket prices in the plus column, and relative audience apathy to four-quels in the minus column, and I see Resident Evil: Afterlife, opening in over 3,200 locations, edging slightly past its predecessors’ debuts.

2. The American$5.4 million

Usually, films that attract an older audience have strong legs, but the film’s “D-” CinemaScore portends a drop-off close to 60 percent. That still should keep the George Clooney art-house-y assassin drama in second place with a total nearing $28 million. Any decline steeper than that, though, and a certain hard-boiled Mexican assassin could come roaring past it.

3. Machete$5.3 million

Grindhouse, the 2007 double feature that spawned Machete, dropped 63 percent in its second weekend. But thanks to decent word-of-mouth — “Machete don’t text” alone is Twitter phenom — I expect this film to hold on a bit better, and close in on $20 million total.

4. Takers$5 million

A drop of around 50 percent is likely for the third weekend of this ensemble heist flick, which has shown impressive staying power. Expect a cume passing $46 million.

5. The Expendables — $4 million

With The Last Exorcism plummeting fast, and Going the Distance already an unfortunately distant memory, I suspect Sly Stallone’s old school action extravaganza to hit the fifth spot and pass $100 million.