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August 24, 2009 4:54 AM
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Box Office: Glo(u)rious "Basterds" For Weinsteins; Potent "Passing"

A scene from Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds." Image courtesy of The Weinstein Company.

According to estimates provided by Rentrak earlier this afternoon, Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" greatly exceeded expectations this weekend, grossing a stellar $37,602,000. That marks a career high opening for Tarantino, and was just short of breaking distributor The Weinstein Company's opening weekend record. Expectations had been in mid-$20 million range.

"We are extremely proud to have worked with Quentin Tarantino and the entire team behind 'Inglourious Basterds' on this fantastic opening," Harvey and Bob Weinstein said jointly. "Congratulations to Quentin, Brad Pitt, the filmmakers, the cast and especially our partners at Universal Pictures for a terrific job internationally. This is a film that wowed audiences the way that only Quentin Tarantino can. We look forward to a great run in the U.S. and continued success around the world."

The film - starring Pitt, Eli Roth, Diane Kruger and screen stealer Christoph Waltz - averaged $11,881 from its 3,165 screens. It dipped 10% on Saturday from its $14,350,000 opening night - a reasonable number for a film that likely benefited from a built-in audience of Tarantino enthusiasts. The film actually played quite similarly to last weekend's "District 9" - which also fell 10% on Saturday and ended up with a nearly identical $37,354,308 weekend haul. That film fell just under 50% this weekend, and should easily top $100 million. "Basterds" could likely find itself with a greater second weekend drop, but a $100 million final tally - Tarantino's first since 1994's "Pulp Fiction," and The Weinstein Company's first ever - is still a good possibility.

Only two Tarantino films - both editions of "Kill Bill" - have ever opened over $20 million. The second "Bill" grossed $25,105,949, holding the director's record until "Basterds" killed it. "Basterds" also became The Weinstein Company's second best opener - after the $40,222,875 "Scary Movie 4" managed in August, 2006 - and is already the distributor's third highest grossing film ever, surpassing - among others - the entire gross of the company's previous collaboration with Tarantino, "Grindhouse," in its first three days. "Grindhouse" was a double feature Tarantino made with Robert Rodriguez, who oddly enough has a 3-D family film, "Shorts," also opening this weekend (it grossed only $6,600,000 for Warner Brothers).

-continue to page 2 for information on non-"Basterds" releases, including a great opening for Spike Lee's "Passing Strange"-

A scene from Spike Lee's "Passing Strange."

Of the more indie-minded openers that reported estimates (indieWIRE doesn't usually focus on wide releases, but "Basterds" seemed like a sensible exception), Spike Lee's greatly acclaimed "Passing Strange"'s exclusive screening at New York City's IFC Center grossed $18,323, giving it the highest average for any reporting release ("Basterds" incomparably included). The film - which captures the eponymous Broadway musical show written by singer/songwriter Stew - also found the third highest opening per-theater-average for a 2009 documentary, behind "Valentino: The Last Emperor" and "Food, Inc."

Behind "Passing" were Richard Loncraine's 1950s-set comedy "My One and Only," starring Renee Zelwegger and Kevin Bacon, and Lucrecia Martel's "The Headless Women," both of which opened very strongly. Freestyle Releasing's "Only" found $60,700 from its 4 screens, averaging $15,175, while Strand Releasing's "Woman," which grossed $14,778 from its sole screen this weekend, adding to the $5,538 it had grossed since opening Wednesday.

Also opening was Vitagraph's release of Oscar-nominated German import "The Baader Meinhof Complex" - which grossed $18,000 from two screens for a $9,000 average - and IFC Films' release of Oliver Hirschbiegel's "Five Minutes of Heaven," which grossed a mild $5,200 from its sole New York City screen. "Heaven" stars Liam Neeson, and takes on the Irish political divide and won the directing award for world dramatic cinema at its Sundance premiere earlier this year.

All openers can take solace in the fact that they fell nowhere near the disastrous opening of Paramount Vantage's under-the-radar (perhaps for a reason) "The Marc Pease Experience" - curiously starring Ben Stiller and Jason Schwartzman. The film grossed only $3,000 from 10 theaters - averaging a pathetic $300.

Among holdovers, last weekend's top opener - Davis Guggenheim's "It Might Get Loud" - held steady on 7 screens and grossed $52,034 - slightly more than half its opening. The Sony Pictures Classics-released doc - which features rare on-the-road discussions with Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White - averaged $7,433 and took its total to $198,224, a promising number for a film yet to expand beyond its initial seven screens.

After a steep first-to-second weekend drop off, Sophie Barthes existential comedy "Cold Souls" held on much better in its third frame. The Paul Giamatti-as-Paul Giamatti Sundance alum, released by Samuel Goldwyn Films, expanded from 21 to 53 screens and grossed $133,000, a 88% rise in grosses and a mild drop in average from $3,363 to $2,509. The film has totaled $340,000.

In its fifth weekend, Armando Iannucci's "In The Loop" expanded slowly to 90 screens, up from 84 last weekend. The IFC Films released held on nicely, grossing another $207,000 - just a 5% drop off from last weekend. Its $1,569,821 total gross should soon top "Summer Hours," the distributor's current highest grosser of the year.


Check back with indieWIRE Tuesday for our full box office chart and an updated article featuring final numbers and information on films that did not report estimates - including Bobcat Goldthwait’s "World’s Greatest Dad" and Lucrecia Martel’s "The Headless Woman."

indieWIRE:BOT tracks independent/specialty releases compiled from Rentrak Theatrical, which collects studio reported data as well as box-office figures from North American theatre locations. To be included in the indieWIRE Box Office Chart, distributors must submit information about their films to Rentrak at studiogrosses@rentrak.com by the end of the day each Monday.

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2 Comments

  • grantmacdonald | August 24, 2009 10:32 AMReply

    Soundtrack from GETTYMOVIE ... the GettyHitler trilogy produced by FIRSTBANK STUDIOS, directed by Grant MacDonald.

    I earned the Getty Oil Company shareholders Four Billion Bucks …
    On the Reserve acquisition; the way they treat me … it really sucks!
    As the Getty inheritors bask in glee;
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    It turns out J.P. Getty may have been a Nazi;
    His family even goes back to Germany ….
    With Hitler, GÖring & Goebbels he did stand;
    While trying to undermine the American land!
    For paintings & artifacts he did receive;
    With his oil he was able to deceive?
    Hoover & the FBI & Roosevelt they knew …
    That J.P. Getty & espionage he drew!
    Many a young lad and Jew did die
    As planes dropped bombs from the sky.
    For years while Getty sat in Berlin
    He may have committed many a sin.
    The ashes and smoke from the chimneys it rose
    While old man Getty sat cozy … he chose.
    With artwork held tightly under his arm
    Still dripping in blood … as the real owner met harm.
    Into the ovens & on meat-hooks, bullets between the eyes …
    Listen very carefully you can still hear their cries!
    While the Gettys sit in England; at their estate at Wormsley;
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    With his 727 in tow;
    The Getty museum sits atop Malibu;
    While the corpses of World War 2 scream … “J.P. Getty … We know you!”


    GETTYMOVIE deals with J. PAUL GETTY; FBI FILE 100.1202, JUNE 26, 1940; ESPIONAGE. 43,000 people were killed in UK by the Nazis while J. Paul Getty was in Berlin shipping oil to Hitler. FBI reported that Getty was still shipping oil to Hitler; June, 1941 - nine months after London was being bombed - five months before Pearl Harbor; Dec. 7, 1941. Getty was assiduously adding to his art collection with the Nazis in 1938. Greek -- Lansdowne Elgin -- marbles; a Gainsborough, Raphael and a Rembrandt are among the acquired artifacts. The mother of Jean Paul Getty, Catherine Risher was German. Dec. 20, 1940 -- the New York Daily News wrote about the involvement of J. Paul Getty and his espionage at the Pierre Hotel in New York. 2003 documents declassified by UK Warfare Ministry reveal that Oct. 1941 the pro-Nazi Jean Paul Getty employed and lodged Nazis at his Pierre Hotel in New York City; Nazis who were involved in spying on and sabotaging war production plants of Allied Forces.

  • grantmacdonald | August 24, 2009 10:28 AMReply

    Inglourious Basterds 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 perspective.

    The cinematography and color was awesome. Brad Pitt 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. 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.