‘Inglourious Basterds’ Captures Box-Office #1

Brad Pitt and Quentin Tarantino draw the crowds, handily defeating 'District 9' and 'G.I. Joe.'

The Box-Office Top Five

#1 [movie id="404229"]“Inglourious Basterds”[/movie] ($37.6 million)
#2 [movie id="372771"]“District 9″[/movie] ($18.9 million)
#3 [movie id="363653"]“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”[/movie] ($12.5 million)
#4 [movie id="344059"]“The Time Traveler’s Wife”[/movie] ($10 million)
#5 [movie id="372349"]“Julie and Julia”[/movie] ($9 million)

It was a glorious, Nazi-scalping debut for “Inglourious Basterds.” Quentin Tarantino’s latest film took the top spot at the box office with $37.6 million. That’s a personal best for the director (the last was “Kill Bill, Vol. 2,” which kicked off with $25.1 million in 2004), and a much-needed success for the Weinstein Company. It’s also a coup for its international distributor Universal, which has suffered poor box-office returns this summer, but will enjoy success with “Basterds.”

Weinstein Company co-chair Harvey Weinstein attributed the success not to Tarantino’s fanbase or the impressive cast, but to leading man Brad Pitt and his effect on male and female moviegoers. “The [pre-release] tracking said we would be $10 million under this,” Weinstein said. “But I think the idea of Brad Pitt being a ‘Basterd’ was funny to people. … Two words work when it comes to women: Brad Pitt.”

Robert Rodriguez didn’t fare as well as his friend and collaborator Tarantino did. His latest family-friendly comedy, “Shorts,” opened softly in sixth place with only $6.6 million. School was also out for Fox’s college comedy “Post Grad,” which came in at #10 with only $2.8 million.

Though it came in second to Tarantino, sci-fi thriller “District 9″ had a strong sophomore session with $18.9 million, and is enjoying a cumulative of $73.5 million, more than double its estimated budget of $30 million. It was down only 49 percent in box-office receipts, which is actually a rarity in comparison to other sci-fi films. “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” also saw slow but steady business, as the film is hanging on at #3 with $12.5 million, and a 17-day cumulative of $120.5 million.

Despite falling to #4, “The Time Traveler’s Wife” enjoyed a strong weekend, dropping a modest 46 percent to romance another $10 million out of moviegoers. It has taken a total of $37.4 million so far. The female-friendly “Julie and Julia” also still has legs at the box office, holding onto #5 with $9 million and enjoying a tasty total of $59.3 million.

Such a variety of genres available in wide release may have led to thin showings for those films stuck in limited release. Paramount Vantage unveiled “The Mark Pease Experience” in just 10 theaters and grossed only $3,000. Freestyle Releasing did better with the comedy “My One and Only,” which grossed a promising $60,708 from only four theaters, and IFC saw similar fortune from a single theater playing “Five Minutes in Heaven,” which grossed $5,200. But as “Cold Souls” and “Thirst” have expanded, the interest in them has waned. “Souls” added 32 theaters but grossed only $133,295, while “Thirst” added three to gross only $31,400.

Upcoming Releases

Horror is on the menu, as the Weinstein Company goes wide with Rob Zombie’s “Halloween II,” and Warners goes 3-D with “The Final Destination.” Focus Features is releasing “Taking Woodstock” in limited engagements on Wednesday before going wide on Friday.

Check out everything we’ve got on “Inglourious Basterds” and “District 9.”

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