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Basterds are the Pride of the Charts

August 24th, 2009

Overall the box office was weaker than expected this weekend with only one of four releases meeting expectations, while the holdovers were not able to completely compensate. This led a 10.5% drop-off in ticket sales from last weekend; however, the $127 million total box office take is still 20% higher than the same weekend last year. 2009 stretched its year-to-date lead over 2008 to 6.9%, earning $7.06 billion to $6.60 billion so far.

Inglourious Basterds was the only new release to top expectations, earning $38.05 million over the weekend, which is the best opening for a Quentin Tarantino film ever. (His previous record was Kill Bill - Volume 2, assuming you don't count Sin City, of which he only directed a small segment.) As for Basterds' long term chances, its reviews point to a lucrative future, while the Fanboy Effect does not. In these cases, the latter almost always triumphs. That said, it will match its production budget domestically and should earn a profit for Weinstein Co. before too long.

Direct competition was too much for District 9 and despite its reviews, it fell just over 51% during its second weekend of release. That said, it still added $18.21 million to take its running tally to $72.80 million, which gives it a clear path to $100 million in total.

G.I. Joe was one of the few films to beat Thursday's prediction with $12.20 million over the weekend. With $120.24 million domestically and more than $100 million internationally, the film has made more than it cost to make, but with P&A and the theaters' cut, it will take until the home market to show a profit.

The Time Traveler's Wife slipped to fourth with $9.74 million over the weekend for a total of $37.17 million after two. This is very close to what the film reportedly cost to make and even if it struggles internationally, it will have little trouble earning a profit sometime during home market run.

Rounding out the top five was Julie & Julia with $8.80 million over the past three days, giving the film a total of $59.09 million. This is already more than initial expectations, while it should earn a profit sometime during its international run.

Shorts came up, well, short, opening in sixth place with $6.41 million. This was the worst opening for a Robert Rodriguez film since Four Rooms, in which he only directed one of four segments. The reviews improved over the weekend, but many critics still say the film will appeal only to its target audience, young kids, and there's little crossover appeal. This is a demographic that tends to give a film long legs, but I doubt theater owners will want to keep the film around long enough for that to happen. It could find a more receptive audience on the home market, but that will likely be too little, too late.

Post Grad's opening was even worse as it missed the top ten with $2.65 million in nearly 2,000 theaters. Its per theater average of $1,354 is well below the Mendoza line, and with a Tomatometer Score that is in single digits, the film will likely disappear from theaters as soon as theater owners are contractually able to drop it. By the time it lands on the home market, it will be forgotten.

Even further down the list was X Games 3D The Movie with just $837,000 in nearly 1,400 theaters, which comes out to a per theater average of $598. Looking at the critical response, it's clear this movie is for fans of the X Games and will have no appeal to neophytes.

Moving on to the sophomore class, the first we get to is The Goods, which fell nearly 52% to 10th place with $2.71 million over the weekend. Its total of $11.25 million after ten days of release is better than originally expected. Ponyo held on well, down just 32% to $2.43 million over the weekend and $8.14 million after two. This is again better than originally expected. Some in the industry are calling the marketing job for Bandslam the worst they've ever seen. A film that is more akin to Juno was sold as High School Musical-lite. During its second weekend of release, it plummeted 62% to just $859,000, giving it $4.44 million in total. Perhaps it will be discovered on the home market. Regardless of what happens now, it deserves better.


Filed under: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, District 9, Inglourious Basterds, Julie & Julia, The Time Traveler's Wife, Shorts, The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, Gake no ue no Ponyo, Post Grad, Bandslam