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First look: 'Basterds' opens to a glorious $37.6 million


"Inglourious Basterds" has given the Weinstein Co. a much-needed jolt, opening to a very strong studio-estimated $37.6 million at the domestic box office.

That's far and away the biggest opening for director Quentin Tarantino, as well as the highest first-weekend gross for a movie in the typically slow second half of August, exceeding the $33.1 million made by 2007's "Superbad," even accounting for ticket-price inflation.

In particularly good news for the movie's backers, the decline in ticket sales from Friday to Saturday was 10%. That's a relatively modest drop for an action movie whose director has a devoted fan base that turns out opening day and is a sign that word of mouth is solid despite some graphic violence and mixed reviews.

The movie also started off well overseas, where it was distributed by Universal, selling a studio-estimated $27.5 million worth of tickets in 22 territories.

Weinstein Co. and Universal split the movie's production budget of about $70 million and will evenly divide the movie's box-office revenue, typically about half of ticket sales. Both studios are very much in need of a hit -- Universal after a summer with several box office busts and Weinstein Co. as it struggles to regain stable financial footing.

"District 9" managed a decent hold despite "Basterds" taking much of the box-office oxygen among action fans. It declined 49% from its big opening to $18.9 million, according to distributor Sony Pictures. That brings total domestic ticket sales for the Peter Jackson-produced science fiction movie, which cost only $30 million to produce, to $73.5 million.

Warner Bros.' romantic drama "The Time Traveler's Wife" dropped 46% to $10 million on its second weekend, a less encouraging number since it opened to a so-so $18.6 million and there were no new directly competing movies at theaters.

Of the weekend's other three new movies in wide release, only the Robert Rodriguez-directed family film "Shorts" avoided disaster, grossing $6.6 million. Warner Bros. distributed the film for financiers Media Rights Capital and Imagenation Abu Dhabi.

Fox's "Post Grad," a leftover film from defunct youth division Fox Atomic, earned a very weak $2.8 million.

Disney's documentary "X-Games 3D" proved a total bust, earning only $800,000 despite playing exclusively in 3-D theaters, which carry ticket-price surcharges.

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Denis Menochet, left,  and Christoph Waltz in "Inglourious Basterds." Credit: Francois Duhamel / the Weinstein Co.

Comments () | Archives (3)

It is a masterpiece!

Depicting the Nazis accordingly for their viciousness against the Jews and what most of us would have liked to have occurred against Hitler and his henchmen is in its proper perspectiveness.

The cinematography and color was awesome. Brad played a character and a half … the film took turns no one would ever think of and David Bowie’s song was so great … as well as the rest of the soundtrack. The characters were terrific and the acting was excellent.

Tarantino’s work is an absolute masterpiece. He indeed did invent a new shade of red! Really a stunning movie.

Guess it helps that my father fought at Normandy on D-Day through the Battle of the Scheldt in Holland and Belgium to Berlin and I have directed my own film about WWII. GETTYMOVIE is the Getty/Hitler trilogy.

It is unique directors like Tarantino that inspire one to push the envelope.

In an ironic twist, it seems the most admired character in the film is Nazi Col. Hans Landa. EVERYONE is talking about his mesmerizing performance which appears to have charmed the pants off movie critics and fans alike. Even though Brad has top-billing, it's clear the film would have been less than mediocre without the superb acting of Christoph Waltz.

Mixed reviews? Have you looked at the reviews that have come in since Cannes? It has an 88% Fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. That's hardly "MIXED"!

As for the film, I wouldn't go so far as to say it is better than Pulp Fiction, which for me is Tarantino's best film, but it does come pretty close.


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