During a season when studios have become all but convinced that audiences are losing interest in big-name movie stars and R-rated adult fare, perhaps it was appropriate that the end of summer would offer a surprise hit that embodied both those qualities.
“Inglourious Basterds,” featuring Brad Pitt among an ensemble cast, earned $38 million at the box office this weekend in the U.S. and Canada, according to domestic distributor Weinstein Co., far exceeding expectations by drawing a fairly diverse audience without alienating director Quentin Tarantino’s core fan base of men in their 20s and early 30s.
The same occurred overseas, where Universal Pictures opened the film in 22 territories, including Germany, France, Britain and Australia, to a strong $27.5 million.
It’s not the only movie this summer to open significantly stronger than pre-release polling had indicated. That list includes Warner Bros.’ June release “The Hangover” and last weekend’s “District 9” from Sony Pictures. But “Inglourious Basterds” certainly had the most at stake — around $70 million in production spending split between Weinstein Co., which hasn’t had a major release since December’s “The Reader,” and Universal, which has had a string of box-office underperformers this summer, including “Land of the Lost” and “Funny People.”
The opening weekend numbers provided an unexpected ending to a months-long marketing campaign. Since the movie premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May to a mixed response, speculation has run rampant in Hollywood as to whether the movie would resemble Tarantino’s 1994 breakout hit “Pulp Fiction,” which earned $108 million domestically, or his 1997 follow-up “Jackie Brown,” which grossed under $40 million.
Quentin Tarantino and Brad Pitt have spun some revisionist history on how World War II ended. Their war saga “Inglourious Basterds” premiered Wednesday at the Cannes Film Festival, presenting a band of Jewish Allied soldiers led by Pitt who play a pivotal role in taking down the Third Reich with a strategic strike against the top Nazi brass. “It was definitely outrageous, which I’m always game for,” Pitt said of Tarantino’s rewrite of the history books. The band’s exploits culminate in a bloodbath at the premiere of a Nazi propaganda film in Paris as Pitt’s commandos exact savage revenge for Adolf Hitler’s genocide against the Jews. Continue reading Pitt, Tarantino alter WWII history with `Basterds’