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Monday, August 24, 2009

'Basterds' takes box office by storm with $37.6m, August 21-23, 2009

For the second week in a row a newcomer blew past industry expectations to claim the top spot at the box office. This week it went to Quentin Tarantino and Co., as their eclectic and gory WWII pic Inglourious Basterds dominated the weekend with a whopping $37.6 million. Last week's champ District 9 slipped to second with a solid $18.9 million showing. Two other newcomers, Shorts and Post Grad finished a distant sixth and tenth place respectively.

Thanks to some huge buzz, good reviews, Brad Pitt's hefty nameplate, and a rather controversial take on the World War II genre, Quentin Taratino's Inglourious Basterds lead all film with an impressive $37.6 million debut, far beyond industry expectations in the mid-$20m range. Budgeted at $70 million, the big opening likely postponed financial ruin for the struggling Weinstein Co. for another day. Universal co-produced the film.

Averaging a huge $11,880 in 3,165 theaters, Basterds easily became director Tarantino's biggest debut ever, besting 2004's Kill Bill Vol. 2 with $25.1 million. The well-reviewed R-rated pic scored a "fresh" 87% recommendation rating from critics polled by Rottentomatoes.com, but a 10% drop from Friday to Saturday might mean larger drops in the next few weekends. Internationally, Inglourious Basterds opened in 22 markets for a $27.5 million bow, pushing its global take to $65.1 million this weekend.

Falling a better-than-expected 49% to second was the sci-fi sleeper hit District 9, which finished with $18.9 million this weekend. In ten days the $30 million budgeted Sony pic has amassed a hugely profitable $73.5 million, and looks on pace to blow past $100 million domestic. Word of mouth appears stronger than normal for a sci-fi pic of its nature, considering last year's Cloverfield saw a huge 68% drop in its sophomore frame. Despite opening slightly larger than District 9, that film finished its domestic run at $80 million.

G.I. Joe claimed the third spot with $12.5 million, dropping just 44% this weekend. In three weeks the $175m budgeted Paramount release has grossed $120.5 million, and a $150 million domestic take seems likely.

Robert Rodriguez's latest foray in the childrens genre was a dud, as Warner's Shorts managed just $6.6 million in sixth place. Averaging just $2,126 from a wide 3,105 theaters, the kidpic fell well short of 2003's Spy Kids 3D: Game Over with $33 million, and even 2005's The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3D with $12.5 million.

Fox's Post Grad was DOA, debuting with $2.8m in 1,959 theaters, averaging a meek $1,429. Starring Gilmore Girls' Alexis Bledel, the film was slaughtered by critics. Even worse was X Games 3D: The Movie, which managed just $800,000 in 1,399 theaters for a pathetic $572 average. The Buena Vista release opened at No. 19 this weekend.

Thanks to a better-than-expected debut from Basterds, as well as some strong holdover performances, the top ten films grossed an estimated $108 million, up 31% from last year's comparable frame when Tropic Thunder stayed on top with $16.3 million.

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