SUNDAYE CENTZ: Glory for ‘Basterds’

Posted by · 10:29 am · August 23rd, 2009

Inglourious Basterds*All historical figures cited are adjusted to today’s dollars.

An advertising campaign built around aggressive violence and the reputation of a polarizing director, a late August release date and mixed early word coming out of Cannes were all factors working against “Inglourious Basterds” leading up to its release. All for naught, however, as the film took in a fantastic $37.6 million, marking a new career high for the director.

Films opening at this point in August simply aren’t supposed to do this well, with the previous high debut on this particular week in the year belonging to “Blade” with $26.1 million in 1998. For The Weinstein Company, this is very welcome news and serves as only the company’s second number one film and first since “Scary Movie 4” in 2006. It is bad news, however, for 2nd grade spelling teachers.

Interestingly enough, the debut is a near mirror image of last week’s “District 9,” which dropped a very respectable 49% to $18.9 million and second place. The running total stands at $73.5 million and the film continues to generate talk around the water cooler. And by water cooler, of course I mean anonymous virtual chat rooms.

“The Time Traveler’s Wife” dipped 46%, probably because people realized that a movie about the person who travels through time would have been way more exciting than the movie about the person who sits around waiting for him to come back.

Tarantino’s old partner in crime, Robert Rodriguez, tried to one-up him with pandering children’s fantasy but “Shorts” came up short (ba-zing!) at $6.6 million and sixth place. Rodriguez loves to throw one of these kids movies in every few years or so and that’s cool, but maybe he should come up with something a little more clever than a rock that grants wishes next time.

Fox’s “Post Grad” barely cracks the top 10 at the foot of the table with $2.8 million. I was schooled on the merits of both Alexis Bledel’s fame and the quality of “Gilmore Girls” last week, but neither was enough to make this barely a blip on the box office radar. The career resurrection of Michael Keaton is postponed for at least another year.

No movies for me this weekend, although I’m gonna try my best to get to “Beeswax” this afternoon.

Next week sees the closing of the summer movie season with a horror sequel battle royale, the likes of which Hollywood is usually keen to avoid.

“The Final Destination” and “Halloween II” are both follow-ups to either forgettable or maligned franchise films but only one of them is in 3D so we’ll give the leg up to “The Final Destination” with $20 million and $18 million for Rob Zombie. I mean, people hated that first movie, right?

Ang Lee also gets in the action with “Taking Woodstock” but a poor release date and virtually no buzz should condemn it to $5 million or so.

What do you guys think? “Final Destination” or “Halloween” for the win?  Here are the weekend’s top box office grossers, courtesy of Exhibitor Relations (based on Friday estimates — the actuals chart will be up shortly):

Weekend of Friday, August 21, 2009

→ 17 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Box Office · Sunday Cents

17 responses so far

  • 1 8-23-2009 at 10:38 am

    Matt T said...

    Gilmore Girl. Not Gossip Girl. I feel like a woman for knowing that.

    Also, love the spelling of the title. It gave me a good laugh.

  • 2 8-23-2009 at 10:45 am

    Encore Entertainment said...

    I keep saying, not a big fan of Tarantino but I am way happy that this topped the box office, just so all those holier thou frackers can stop mouthing off…and what the hell has happened to Michael Keaton. Other than LIVE FROM BAGHDAD that TV movie ages ago, I can’t remember a notable performance from him in a while.

    PS. Halloween I think is going to take the win.

  • 3 8-23-2009 at 10:47 am

    Chad Hartigan said...

    That chart is actually from yesterday based only on Friday estimates. We’ll get the real chart on ASAP.

  • 4 8-23-2009 at 10:48 am

    Vito said...

    Michael Keaton rules. It’s such a shame.

    Anyway, flop or not, I’m gonna see Taking Woodstock next week over the two dead horses that are the Halloween and FInal Destination franchises.

  • 5 8-23-2009 at 10:49 am

    Robert Hamer said...

    Like I said many times already, I’m completely out of touch with mainstream audiences on this one.

    Here’s a question for those who enjoyed Inglourious Basterds. I’ve asked this on Cinemablend and Awards Daily and I haven’t recieved a straight answer to it. What was the point of the dialogue between Hans Landa and Shosanna in the restaraunt? Since they never meet again and nothing important came out of their conversation, couldn’t QT have cut that scene without any detraction from the story?

  • 6 8-23-2009 at 10:54 am

    James D. said...

    Robert: The point was to mobilize her to act against the Nazis. After the fear of the encounter, she decides to get even.

  • 7 8-23-2009 at 10:56 am

    Chad Hartigan said...

    I also forgot to mention that this is the second chart-topper in a row featuring a hero with a moustache. The Great ‘Stache Comeback of ’09 is in full swing!

  • 8 8-23-2009 at 11:02 am

    Derek 8-Track said...

    “It is bad news, however, for 2nd grade spelling teachers.”
    You’re right on that one. I remember my English professor during my freshman year of college giving the class 10 minute lecture on how that Tim Allen movie The Santa Clause ruined an entire generation of spellers. Kids who grew up watching that movie continue to spell it wrong in college. guilty.

  • 9 8-23-2009 at 11:06 am

    Encore Entertainment said...

    Okay if second grade children are looking at this movie there is some seriously questionable parenting going on there.

  • 10 8-23-2009 at 11:11 am

    Robert Hamer said...

    I understand how their *encounter* made her want revenge, but everything they talked about amounted to nothing. Landa could’ve easily introduced himself and left right away, and the story would have moved on without a hitch.

    I’m not trying to convey that that ONE scene ruined the whole movie for me, as there were several sequences that could have easily been cut or abridged, especially since so few of them were entertaining.

  • 11 8-23-2009 at 11:35 am

    Georgie said...

    I saw Inglourious Basterds and really liked it, although I did not like the ending at all. At least the part in the theater. Glad it had such a big debut though. All the showings at our theater here were sold out. Waltz was excellent.

  • 12 8-23-2009 at 11:41 am

    Mike_M said...

    Have you seen Time Travelers Wife, because your comment is actually the opposite of the movie, people complained they wanted to see it more from her side, like the book, but the movie spends a lot of time from his side… I have seen the movie, but not read the book and my wife has mentioned the differences between the book and movie.

  • 13 8-23-2009 at 12:00 pm

    James D. said...

    Well Robert, I think the reasoning for their off-topic conversation was that she, and the audience, thought that he would reveal that he knew who she was. It kept my audience on the edge of their seat. It is similar to how he danced around knowing about the family in the opening scene.

  • 14 8-23-2009 at 12:56 pm

    j said...

    Though Basterds/District are about the same, District is more impressive given both the higher opening per-theatre average and the relative statures of the director.

    In other news, looks like Potter makes it to #2 of the year, so the series has in different years been the #’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6 of the year. While worldwide, each installment has been in the top 2 of the year.

  • 15 8-23-2009 at 3:17 pm

    Davidraider88 said...

    I know Robert Rodriguez loves his children, but he needs to stop making these crappy kiddie films. He becomes less of an auteur each time he does them.

  • 16 8-24-2009 at 3:21 am

    limeymcfrog said...

    Robert, the point of the scene was tension and connection. At this point we might care a little for Shoshanna, but we have little exposure to her, so seeing her escape a moment of extreme danger helps us identify with her. Also, the scene is a masterpiece of suspense, espescially when Landa orders the milk. Why you would complain about a scene so masterful is beyond me.

  • 17 8-24-2009 at 3:15 pm

    Matt said...

    I don’t think either Halloween 2 or The Final Destination will come out on top. I think a lot of people were waiting for the word of mouth on Inglorious Basterds and will be going to the theater next week to give it a second weekend win.