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Movie projector: 'District 9' and 'Time Traveler's Wife' set for battle of the sexes

August 13, 2009 |  3:20 pm


"District 9" and "The Time Traveler's Wife" will be splitting the sexes this weekend.

Sony Pictures' sci-fi movie produced by Peter Jackson and Warner Bros.' adaptation of the bestselling book are both tracking to open in the mid-$20 millions domestically and at least one could, executives with access to prerelease audience polling say, hit $30 million or more.

"District 9," an independently financed, effects-heavy tale from first-time feature director Neil Blomkamp about aliens living in apartheid-like conditions in South Africa, is tracking almost exclusively with males and will likely draw a big fanboy audience on Friday. Those interested in the weepy romance "The Time Traveler's Wife," which stars Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams, are primarily women.

They're not the only movies in the hunt for No. 1 this weekend. If Paramount's "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" falls around 50% on its second weekend, then it could be competitive with "District 9" and "Time Traveler's Wife."

Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore said on Sunday his studio would more aggressively go after families with sons for "G.I. Joe" starting this week, since adult males are likely to flock to the R-rated "District 9."

(Which movie will come out No. 1? Vote in our Company Town poll)

Regardless of which ends up No. 1, both of the weekend's big new movies are poised to be financial successes given their relatively modest budgets. "District 9," which was financed by QED International, cost $30 million to produce, while "Time Traveler," which comes from Warner Bros.' New Line division, cost $39 million.

Sony acquired the rights to distribute "District 9" domestically and in most key international territories, including all English-speaking ones. The picture will open in several foreign countries this weekend including Australia and Russia.

One studio distribution executive noted that there's some reason to be concerned that the new pictures could underperform, as the domestic box office has been in a bit of a slump recently. "G.I. Joe," the last big-budget event movie of the summer, had a solid but not spectacular debut. And during the preceding four weekends, ticket sales were down significantly from 2008. Overall box office returns this summer are virtually flat compared with last year.

Also opening this weekend is teen-targeted movie "Bandslam" from Summit Entertainment and Walden Media. It will likely sell around $5 million worth of tickets in the U.S. and Canada.

-- Ben Fritz

Photo (left): "District 9." Credit: Tristar Pictures

Photo (right): Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana in "The Time Traveler's Wife." Credit: Alan Markfield / New Line Cinema