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Source: Jeff Bock
Date: Aug 23, 2009

You basterd! $37.6 MILLION!

Quentin Tarantino is a bonafide box office basterd. Just ask his cinematic celluloid-mate Robert Rodriguez. Tarantino’s latest joint, "Inglourious Basterds," stormed the charts to take the #1 position over the weekend, grossing $37.6 million in Nazi gold, while Rodriguez’s kiddie flick, "Shorts," was squished like a bug, finishing sixth in its debut with just $6.6 million.

The Weinstein Co.’s WWII fantasy epic--clocking in at over 2 ½ hours--is not only Tarantino’s best opening ever (previous high was "Kill Bill Vol. 2" - $25.1 mil) but the distributor’s first number one debut since "Scary Movie 4" in 2006.  It’s also the best "war" film to debut since the Iraqi invasion began. The box office is literally a bloody trail of films that have tried and died…until now. It took a revisionist’s history to rewrite the box office woes that have plagued war films of late, but that said, Tarantino’s latest is really a love letter to cinema, thinly disguised as combat propaganda. In International waters, "Inglourious Basterds" was equally potent, grossing a career-best $27.5 million for QT in 2,630 locations.

Sony’s "District 9" was zoned out of the top spot, but still abducted $18.9 million from audiences in the runner-up position, dropping just 51% versus last weekend. With $73 million in the bank, expect the $35 million venture to be hugely profitable for the distributor and summer’s second biggest surprise--"The Hangover" being the story this summer as it has grossed $268 million to date for Warner Bros.

"G.I. Joe" hung its hat on the third rung, as Paramount’s cartoon adaptation shot up $12 million in its third go-round, dropping a respectable 45% and sporting a total of $120 million. Worldwide, the Stephen Sommers directed flick has already banked over $225 million. 

"The Time Traveler’s Wife" finished fourth, earning $10 million in its second weekend. The Eric Bana/Rachel McAdams romance has now courted $37 million from moviegoers.

Holding stronger than any other film in the Top 10, Meryl Streep’s "Julie & Julia" dipped just 25% from last weekend, stirring up $9 million and $59 million total.

Besides "Inglourious Basterds," none of the other new wide releases packed any punch. Yup, the dregs of summer are officially upon us. "Shorts" debuted in over 3,100 theatres but could only pack in an anemic $2,100 per screen. Faring even worse was Fox’s teen comedy "Post Grad." The Michael Keaton starrer grossed just $2.8 million in nearly 2,000 theatres. That paltry gross makes Fox’s last teen comedy, "I Love You Beth Cooper," which opened with $4.9 million, seem like a box office behemoth in comparison.  However, ye olde bomb of the weekend goes to Walt Disney and Co. who released "X-Games 3D: The Movie" to empty theatres from coast to coast, grossing just $800,000 from nearly 1,400 theatres. That’s a mind-bendingly small $500 per screen…and once you factor in the higher ticket prices…you can see how harsh this gross really is, dude. To 3D or not to 3D…that is no longer the question. If its not live or a very special event…don’t bother tapping into the third dimension. You don’t know what you’re messin’ with.

In limited release, Freestyle’s "My One and Only" starring Rene Zellwegger grossed a healthy $60,708 from just four theatres in LA and NY to top the per screen average with over $15,000 per. Expect a decent expansion next weekend and the weeks to come for the 1950’s era comedy.

Next weekend, horror sequels goes headless-to-headless as WB’s "The Final Destination" and Weinstein’s "Halloween 2" square off. It’s odd for two genre films to be released on the same weekend, and more curious when two huge horror franchises both debut in over 3,000 sites.  Every film in the "Final Destination" franchise has opened with more than its predecessor: $10 mil, $16 mil, $19 mil. While Rob Zombie’s original remake (an oxymoron, I know) debuted with $26 mil. Expect both films to be hurt a bit here, however they should be very close in terms of actual grosses--$20 mil…give or take a few mil. Also opening wide, Focus’ "Taking Woodstock" which debuts in 1,300 theatres. Expect low single digits for this hippie-dippie trip featuring comic Demetri Martin.

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