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Weinstein credits women for $65-million worldwide opening of 'Inglourious Basterds'

August 23, 2009 | 11:43 am

InglouriousBradPitt Women, it turns out, were the surprising key for "Basterds" this weekend.

While an audience that's 58% male would seem lopsided for many pictures, Weinstein Co. Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein said it was much better than he had expected and one of the main reasons "Inglourious Basterds" opened to a very strong studio-estimated $37.6 million in the U.S. and Canada this weekend.

"Research showed that guys loved this movie but said women would not," he said in an interview this morning. "That was the Everest we had to climb."

The weekend's other three new movies, meanwhile, all showed little to no life at the box office.

Weinstein Co.'s aggressive efforts in the past week, after "The Time Traveler's Wife" opened, to draw women to "Inglourious Basterds" included ads in women's magazines, on websites and on television shows including "Battle of the Network Stars" and the Weinstein Co.-produced "Project Runway," which had its season premiere Thursday on Lifetime.

Add in $27.5 million from the 22 foreign territories where Universal Pictures opened the film and "Inglourious Basterds" grossed $65.1 million around the world. That's good news for the Weinstein Co., as it struggles to regain its financial footing, and Universal, which has had a very tough summer at the box office. The two studios split the film's budget of about $70 million and will evenly divide its revenue. Typically, studios receive about half of a movie's box-office receipts.

Domestically, "Basterds" was the biggest opening ever for director Quentin Tarantino. Overseas, the movie was No. 1 in most countries where it launched, including Germany, Great Britain, France and Australia.

Late August and early September are typically slow at the box office, but "Inglourious Basterds" appears to be coming out of its opening weekend with good buzz. Audiences gave the movie an average grade of A-, according to market research firm CinemaScore, and ticket sales dropped a relatively modest 10% from Friday to Saturday.

That means "Basterds" could play well for a few weeks and quite possibly top $100 million domestically. Next weekend, it runs into another Weinstein Co. release, "Halloween II." Harvey Weinstein said, starting on Monday, he'll be marketing the Tarantino film as "the must-see movie for an adult audience,"  which should differentiate it from the young crowd expected for "Halloween" and Warner Bros.' "The Final Destination," both of which open on Friday.

"District 9" dropped a decent 49% on its second weekend even though "Basterds" drew much of its core audience. The Sony-distributed science-fiction film, which cost only $30 million to produce, has earned a total of $73.5 million domestically thus far.

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 not-as-impressive $18.6 million last weekend.

Shorts The low-budget Robert Rodriguez-directed family film "Shorts" performed decently, opening to $6.6 million. Warner Bros. distributed the film for financiers Media Rights Capital and Imagenation Abu Dhabi.

Fox's "Post Grad," a leftover picture 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.

Here are the top 10 films at the domestic box office, according to studio estimates and Hollywood.com:

1. "Inglourious Basterds" (Weinstein Co./Universal): Opened to $37.6 million in the U.S. and Canada, $27.5 million overseas.

2. "District 9" (Sony Pictures/QED Entertainment): Down 49% on its second weekend to $18.9 million. Domestic total: $73.5 million. 

3. "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" (Paramount/Spyglass): $12.5 million on its third weekend, a drop of 44%. Total domestic ticket sales: $120.5 million.

4. "The Time Traveler's Wife" (Warner Bros/New Line): Declined 46% to $10 million on its second weekend, bringing its total to a so-so $37.5 million.

5. "Julie & Julia" (Sony Pictures): A very modest 25% drop to $9 million. Total U.S. and Canadian ticket sales: $59.3 million.

6. "Shorts" (Warner Bros/MRC/Imagenation): $6.6 million on its opening weekend.

7. "G-Force" (Disney): $4.2 million, down 39% on its fifth weekend. Domestic total is $107.3 million.

8. "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" (Warner Bros.): Declined 32% on its sixth weekend to $3.5 million. $290.3 million in domestic ticket sales so far.

9. "The Ugly Truth" (Sony): $2.9 million on its fifth weekend, a drop of 36% for the romantic comedy. Total is $82.9 million.

10. "Post Grad" (Fox): The Fox Atomic leftover flopped with $2.8 million on its opening weekend.

-- Ben Fritz

Photos: Brad Pitt in "Inglourious Basterds." Credit: Francois Duhamel / the Weinstein Co. Rebel Rodriguez, left, Trevor Gagnon and Leo Howard in "Shorts." Credit: Warner Bros.

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