It looks like the exhausting press cycle director Quentin Tarantino has been on over the past two weeks (NPR to WWE) paid off in the end. A $14.3 million Friday has morphed into a $37.6 million dollar opening weekend for Tarantino and his “Inglourious Basterds”. It was a question mark to many how the World War II film would fare commercially – so that sound you hear? It’s the collective sigh of all Weinstein Co. employees whose jobs are now a hell of a lot safer.
|4||Time Traveler’s Wife||$10,025,000||$37,448,000|
|6||Julie & Julia||$9,000,000||$59,288,000|
|8||Harry Potter 6||$3,515,000||$290,275,000|
|9||The Ugly Truth||$2,850,000||$82,887,000|
As I mentioned yesterday, the fate of “Inglourious Basterds” had many a box office watcher on the edge of their seats this past week. Not only were we curious how “Basterds” would fare as compared to the disappointing numbers posted for Tarantino’s last outing, “Grindhouse Presents: Death Proof”, but the added drama of a nearly destitute Harvey Weinstein was also thrown into the mix. Cannes audiences were uncharacteristically cool to “Basterds” earlier this year which meant that Tarantino would need a big win stateside in order to continue thumbing his nose at the David Denbys of the world. Luckily, his fans answered the director’s distress call in record numbers.
“Inglourious Basterds” is now by far the most successful debut of Tarantino’s career. Playing in over 3,100 venues the film scored a per seat average of $11,881. Those are the best numbers since the director’s “Kill Bill Vol. 2″ brought in $25 million in its debut weekend back in 2004.
But for Tarantino and the Weinsteins one question mark still remains – how will “Basterds” hold up in the coming weeks. Rival studios have been predicting a big drop in week two for Brad Pitt and his merry band of murderers. It seems that as college campuses begin buzzing the audience for an R-rated action flick becomes greatly reduced. Of course, these are the same rival studios who predicted that “Basterds” wouldn’t break $25 million this weekend so let’s just wait and see how things play out. For now, the news is all good.
Of course, for one member of Tarantino’s inner circle this weekend’s news could have been better. You may not have noticed but Robert Rodriguez’s latest kid-centric movie, “Shorts”, also saw its debut on “Inglourious Basterd/Avatar Day”. The film, about a town whose residents discover a rock with the power to grant wishes, had limited exposure – though what PG film stood a chance against the complete media onslaught of “Basterds”? “Shorts” opened in 3,105 theatres and could only scrape up a $6.6 million estimated total or about $2,100 per theatre. This is way off the mark of Rodriguez’s “Spy Kids 3D” which brought in $33 million back in 2003. Maybe he was doing his friend Quentin a favor by laying low?
Last week’s surprisingly lucrative “District 9″ is a distant second this week with $18.9 million - though the fact that the R-rated alien opus only fell 49% (against Friday’s 60%+) has to be seen as good news. In fact, it’s all gravy now for the humans involved with “District 9″. The movie, which cost only $30 million to make, has now edged past $82 million in worldwide estimates.
There is no gravy for the week’s third wide-opener, a little piece of fluff held loosely together by the adhesive quality of crap known as “Post Grad”. The film, starring “Gilmore Girl” star Alexis Bledel, opened in just under 2,000 theatres and still struggled to earn $2.8 million and a spot at the ass end of the top ten.
Next week The Weinstein Company will be looking to cement its comeback story with a big opening for the Rob Zombie sequel “Halloween II”. Look for Michael Myers to gut those crazy hippies from Ang Lee’s “Taking Woodstock” come Friday.