'District 9' Takes Top Spot At Box Office

Sci-fi flick outperforms expectations as 'G.I. Joe' drops to #2.

The Box-Office Top Five

#1 "District 9" ($37 million)

#2 "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" ($22.5 million)

#3 "The Time Traveler's Wife" ($19.2 million)

#4 "Julie and Julia" ($12.4 million)

#5 "G-Force" ($6.9 million)

August is usually a sleepy month at the box office, with studios ending the summer season with films that aren't exactly blockbuster material. But this year has been a different story. Earnings are up 12 percent from last year, and the critically acclaimed "District 9" took the top spot at the box office. Relying largely on viral marketing, Comic-Con buzz and good reviews, Sony's sci-fi flick outperformed the studio's wildest expectations and brought in $37 million. The R-rated thriller has turned out to be a Cinderella story for producer Peter Jackson and its director, newcomer Neill Blomkamp. After their "Halo" project fell apart, the pair teamed up to remake Blomkamp's short film "Alive in Joburg" with a $30 million budget. With "District 9" sitting at #1, it's doubtful there are any "Halo" regrets for the filmmakers or the fans.

This weekend's sci-fi wasn't all about thrills, chills and gore. Warner Bros. offered a more romantic side of the genre with [movie id="344059"]"The Time Traveler's Wife."[/movie]  The release of the film, based on Audrey Niffenegger's best-seller, had been repeatedly pushed back since last year, which may have caused it to open a little quietly at #3. The film earned a respectable $19.2 million, though, and is currently the highest opening debut for its leading lady, Rachel McAdams.

Solid debuts were not in the numbers for Paramount Vantage's "The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard," Disney's limited release "Ponyo" or Summit's "Bandslam." All three films opened weakly, at #6, #9 and #13 respectively. Instead, the top five belonged to the sophomores.

Last week's champion, "G.I Joe: The Rise of Cobra," dropped to #2 with $22.5 million, and while it's not an overnight success, it has earned $98.8 in 10 days. "Julie and Julia" dropped to #4 with $12.4 million, but has cooked up a solid haul of $43.7 million. While "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" vanished into thin air, "G-Force" is still going strong at #5 four weeks after its release, with $6.9 million more to add to its cumulative of $99 million.

Upcoming Releases

Warner Bros. aims for the family with Robert Rodriguez's "Shorts," Fox looks to Gen-Y angst with "Post Grad" and the Weinstein Company goes wide with Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds."

Check out everything we've got on "District 9," "The Time Traveler's Wife" and "Bandslam."

For breaking news, celebrity columns, humor and more — updated around the clock — visit MTVMoviesBlog.com.