Box Office Report: 'District 9' conquers competition with $37 mil

District-9-aliens-cop_lIn what feels like a box-office weekend from The Twilight Zone, a low-budget and critically acclaimed movie with no stars and an unknown director managed to top the charts. District 9, the alien action pic produced by Peter Jackson and directed by the 29-year-old Neill Blomkamp — who shot the film in Johannesburg, South Africa, of all places – crushed the competition by grossing $37 million, according to early estimates. Audiences clearly enjoyed what they saw too: District 9 has already soared to #78 on IMDb’s top 250 movies list, although it’ll obviously drop some as the initial euphoria wears off.

Second place went to G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, which dropped 59% in its second weekend but still managed to recruit $22.5 million. The $175 million action movie should pass $100 million domestically by Monday. The Time Traveler’s Wife materialized into third place with $19.2 million in its debut weekend, proving that there is a market for watching Eric Bana disappear. Rounding out the top 5 were Julie & Julia (No. 4 with $12.4 million) and G-Force (No. 5 with $6.9 million), respectively.

Also opening wide was a trio of movies that failed to make a significant dent on the box office. The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, a cars-salesmen comedy starring Jeremy Piven, barely registered on the mercury thermometer by earning $5.4 million. Ponyo, the 10th film by Japan’s animation auteur Hayao Miyazaki, grossed $3.5 million on 927 screens. While that amount represents Miyazaki’s best opening weekend in America, it’s still fish feed compared to Ponyo‘s worldwide gross of $187 million. The music comedy Bandslam won’t be getting any requests for encores after making only $2.3 million from more than 2,000 screens — even the promise of seeing the “Taylor Lautner takes off his shirt” trailer of The Twilight Saga: New Moon couldn’t save the Vanessa Hudgens movie.

In limited release, the Jimmy Page/The Edge/Jack White music documentary It Might Get Loud opened promisingly, grossing $101,000 from just seven theaters. And (500) Days of Summer continues to cement its title as “the indie breakout of the summer” by charming $3 million more from moviegoers, bringing its total to $18 million so far.

More box office news from EW:
Box Office Preview: Will ‘District 9′ prove, yet again, that moviegoers want originality?
G.I. Joe’ wins box office battle with $56.2 million
G.I. Joe’ leads Friday box office with $22.3 million
Box Office Preview: Is ‘G.I. Joe’ Hasbro’s next blockbuster?
Box Office Report: ‘Funny People’ laughs to No. 1 with $23.4 mil

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  • Nathan

    Nice to see an actual good movie make some cash this summer, you can place District 9 right alongside Star Trek and UP as the best of summer ’09.

    • Sally in Chicago

      I just came from D9 and had a good time watching it.

  • DT

    Hear, hear Nathan. My faith in humanity is partially restored.

  • ryan

    district 9 was a terrible movie… the plot was just packed with holes, and the main character literally acts retarded for most the of the movie. it was a utter waste of time.

    • Sally in Chicago

      Ryan, it’s a popcorn movie. You’re not supposed to apply logic to it.

      • Julie E.

        I haven’t seen this movie yet, but I want to go on record that “It’s a popcorn movie” is no excuse for anything. It’s just a lazy way of not addressing criticisms.

      • Chad

        D9 is not a “popcorn movie”. Ryan just didn’t like it or get it.

    • t3hdow

      I can understand maybe a couple of plot issues some people brought up, but as far as inconsistent storytelling goes, D9′s not nearly as loathsome as Transformers. Also, unlike Transformers, I actually care about the characters, even the protagonist (who begins as an oblivious, bigoted airhead, but by the end, turns into a sympathetic figure). Lastly, D9 at least injects social commentary into the film, which is more than you can say with action/sci-fi this summer than, again, Transformers and GI Joe (and in a lesser extent, Terminator Salvation).

      • Mariah

        Interestingly enough, I don’t look for social commentary in my action/sci fi movies. I look to have fun. Which is what I had at every movie you just slammed. I haven’t seen D9 and I’m not bashign D9. I’m just still trying to figure out when it became necessary for every action/sci fi movie to try to live up to The Dark Knight in order to be considered worthy of anybody’s time.

      • t3hdow

        Oh don’t get me wrong. I liked Terminator Salvation and Transformers 2 enough as action vehicles, but their narratives left something to be desired; the latter film especially. It’s not like I require social commentary for every film I enjoy either, but is it too much to ask for these action movies to have coherent storylines and/or compelling characters behind them? I’m all for watching an orgy of explosions and shootouts, but a little depth behind the madness would be nice too.

    • Mary Ann

      I hear you! WARNING!
      I went and saw District 9, sci-fi movie. It was unequivocally the very worst movie I have ever seen. I seriously had thoughts about asking for my money back. But I held out in hopes that the movie would get better. No plot! Made no sense. Dialog – really demented. And no, it wasn’t action packed like had been advertised and stated. Again, the worst movie I had ever seen in my whole entire life! No, I’m not a movie critic, but I do know when I see poop, and this one is a real crapper. There were people who got up and walked out in the middle of the show (the movie lasted way too long – 2 hours of ridiculous stupid rhetoric). I sat through the movie in hopes that it would get better. I was totally disappointed – it didn’t.
      My thoughts @!!#**%@*##%!!

      • Nathan B

        If this was the worst movie, its for either of 3 reasons. 1. You have watched some absolutely crappy films, 2. You r not smart enough to actually get a movie with social complexity and humanity exposing content, that still remains action packed and entertaining. 3. Your just a negative person, that tries to bring everybody down so you can feel comfortably in your sad swaller. With that said the Number 1 movie of the week and raving reviews, show your in the minority.

  • lindsey

    You forgot to mention “Spread” starring Ashton Kutcher that made a whopping $117,000 in 91 theaters proving that not everything Ashton touchs turns to gold.

    • Julie E.

      I’m no Ashton Kutcher fan, but actually, $117,000 in only 91 theaters isn’t bad. It’s probably more per screen than a lot of the top 10 movies made.

  • Corben

    Yep, somehow “Twilight” makes it way into every news article.
    EW is burying itself alive.

  • Bobby

    Yeah,if I wasn’t getting EW for practically nothing I would probably cancel it.I don’t know how much more of this Twilight crap I can take.Happy to see District 9 do so well.

  • Pslightly Psycho

    This has got to be THE best movie of the summer (maybe even the year?)! Finally a fresh and original concept – shot on a measely $30mil budget – with great acting, white knuckle action, superior F/X (those Prawns look SO real)and thrills up the yin-yang. A real cinematic triumph that does NOT involve a book series, amusemnet park ride, children’s toys, old TV shows, “reworking” of older films, comic books,vampires and whatever else Hollywood can recycle for a quick and easy buck.

    • cjrarsenal

      Technically it is a reworking of an old movie. It’s basically just an extended and much more exciting version of “Alive in Joburg”. But don’t let that take anything away from it, I loved District 9, a real fresh movie. My fav so far this year

    • byte

      You sound like an advertisement for this movie. STOP DRINKING THE KOOL-AID !

  • Pslightly Psycho

    By the way: “Bobby” is 110% correct. In fact I DID cancel my EW subscription because I got so f**king sick of weekly coverage of TWILIGHT, LOST, and GOSSIP GIRL. There is more to entertainment than these three. Jesus!

    • Julie E.

      And yet, here you are on the EW website, posting comments over and over.

    • t3hdow

      There are ways to avoid them if they bother you this much. I’m not a fan of American Idol or Twilight either, yet I’m not going to click on every article EW makes about them and gripe about both. Besides, it’s not like the Twilight coverage extends past a few pages, even when there’s a cover story. The only time it feels like overkill is when EW dedicates the entire issue to its cover story, which they did twice (i.e., last year’s Sex and the City issue or the post-American Idol season 6 one).
      The Twilight coverage is not as excessive as many of you claim. It’s not that hard to skip this week’s New Moon cover story when the main article discusses like 50 other upcoming releases alongside it.

  • Pslightly Psycho

    One more thing: notice the photo on above of the Prawn being interoggated? It was in the trailer but not the final cut. Wonder why?

    • Snsetblaze

      I noticed that too.

      • Chad

        It wasn’t in there because they wanted to give you a feeling about the film without giving the film away like so many trailers do. It’s called being smart… something most films forgot about.

  • Kelly

    “While that amount represents Miyazaki’s best opening weekend in America, it’s still fish feed compared to Ponyo’s worldwide gross of $187 million.”

    Well what do you expect? Disney only bothered to show it in 927 theaters. The release number in Japan’s theaters must have been 3 times that number.

    And more Twilight dropping? Makes me wonder if EW is getting paid everytime they mention Twilight and/or one of its stars.

  • J.

    D9 was awesome. A total mix of so many different types of movies. You were never quite sure where it was going, but you had blast the whole way.

  • maskedavenger

    Those that don’t understand District 9 seem to be the only ones not liking it. Go watch TDK again fools.

    • William

      Well “masked avenger”, I admit that I didn’t understand it. Why did the aliens need to park above South Africa for twenty years when all they needed to do to go home was squeeze the juice out of their own alien ipods and other technology? It seems like they could have done that on board the mothership and been on their way. I’m hoping you can explain this to me since you understood the film. I’ll be watching The Dark Knight until you get back to me.

      • B.Rich

        As hey said in the movie, only the “worker” aliens survived. Those with no knowledge of the technology used to pilot the ship. One intelligent “leader” alien did survive, but it took 20 years to produce enough fuel for the trip back home.

        I would really like to know what other plot holes people thought there were. I can’t think of any, but I keep reading that from commenters.

      • Alex

        ***Spoiler Alert, I guess?***
        Most of the aliens were of an unskilled, uneducated worker class who probably had no understanding of the ship’s workings. Christopher Johnson, the smart alien, seemed to be the ship’s pilot or engineer. He worked pretty much by himself, non-stop for twenty years, to gather enough fuel to jump start the ship. And the ship coasted to a stop over South Africa, no particular reason, that’s just where they came to a stop. I think I understood the movie, and it was awesome.

      • William

        Hey guys – thanks for your thoughts. I guess I’m confused because the fuel that they gathered was right there on the ship to begin with, within their own technology. Why didn’t Christopher (or another leader) gather the fuel then, when the ship came to a stop, rather than waiting until they were off the ship, and were forced to scrounge for the fuel, which took 20 years?

      • Alex

        The fuel that was in their technology had to be ‘refined’ using that chemistry set. It looked like the common fuel produced a tiny amount of the ‘ship-grade’ fuel. The ship probably had no refining capability, which is why they had to build the chemistry set, or if it did, they were forced off the ship before they could use it.

      • LB

        Yes. I agree w/ the other people who have replied to this question. My only other input would be that I got the impression that since Christopher was probably the pilot, he was also probably dropped to earth with the smaller aircraft and was thus separated from the rest of the ship and the other “working class” aliens. Then the humans cut open the ship and created the slum and Christopher integrated with the rest of his people and attempted to create the “super” grade liquid.

    • Robb02

      I did like District 9, quite a bit actually, but it IS riddle with plot holes. William brings up one, but here are two others:

      1. If the humans “did the right thing” according to the film and shuttled them planetside, how did the weaponry get down here too? Especially the 25ft. tall Mech Suit. They seem to eschew clothing, so they couldn’t have smuggled it down on their person. Don’t say the smaller ship. It’s barely big enough for about 6-8 people/aliens.

      2. This is also the same problem I have with Lost, no one will stop for 5 minutes to have a conversation. The Aliens have a basic understanding of English at this point in the film and Wikus can understand Christopher. Why doesn’t Christopher say, ” You loath us and don’t want us here. We just want to go home. Help us get some fuel, get the ship back to the Mothership and we’ll be out of your hair. Deal? Great!” A simple solution really.
      Also, Masked Avenger, as good a film as The Dark Knight is(and it is a GREAT movie), Bruce Wayne’s fingerprints are still on the telescope after the assassination attempt on the mayor. He would have been in custody within 24 hours.

      • Alex

        Very good question. My take is some aliens cut a deal with someone to get a helicopter ride back up to the ship in exchange for a share of the weapons. Perhaps an inside MNU job?

      • cornea503

        I thought the same thing about humans being more than willing to let them go, but after thinking about it for a bit, the movie made it clear that humans wanted their weapon technology. If the alien DNA was needed to power the weapons, then it wouldn’t make much sense to let them. I would also think that the mother ship would also be of great interest to humans, again another reason not to cooperate with Christopher Johnson. As for the weapons, not a big plot hole in my mind. The movie didn’t get much into how exactly the aliens were removed from the mother ship. Also, anything could have happened in the 20 years the Prawns were on earth. Impossible for a 2 hr movie to cover everything that happened during that time in fine grain detail.

  • Lori

    I hardly consider Peter Jackson an unknown director. Surely, Mr. Young, you remember the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Mr. Jackson’s Oscar?

    • Acmed

      Peter Jackson was the producer. The director was Neill Blomkamp.

    • Amy

      Lori, thank you for getting PJ’s back! But, yes, unfortunately he didn’t direct it. I feel like some of the plot holes wouldn’t have been there if Jackson HAD in fact directed it!

  • Pslightly Psycho

    Julie E: thank you for your insightful contribution. Now run along to JULIE AND JULIA and shove a souffle up your a**.

    • t3hdow

      Sigh. And THIS is how stupid arguments begin. To be honest, Julie’s right about how idiotic it is for people to constantly whine about EW’s Twilight coverage (which, while sometimes excessive, isn’t THAT bad, and doesn’t drown everything the mag writes about), yet still stick around to read the mag they openly ridicule. If it bothers you to this extent, for your own benefit, stop wasting your time and money, and go away for good. Simple as that.

  • JA

    Ok…the movie wasn’t bad, but I’m sick to death of hearing how “original” it is. Did no one see Alien Nation in the 80′s? It’s the same plot. There’s nothing original about D9 except the location.

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