‘District 9′ Lands In Top Spot
The aliens of District 9 may be hapless on-screen, but they conquered theaters with ease this weekend.
The low-budget sci-fi thriller raked in $37 million, according to studio estimates from Nielsen EDI. It was produced by Peter Jackson, Oscar-winning filmmaker of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The debut beat expectations by $13 million. The film already has recouped its $30 million production cost.
Born of an aborted video-game movie and helped along by a canny marketing campaign, D9 marked an unusual victory for sci-fi films, which can be sporadic box-office performers. The film has no stars and a first-time director in Neill Blomkamp, who was to helm Halo before the project fell apart.
But D9 earned recommendations from 89% of the nation's critics, according to RottenTomatoes.com. And Sony concocted a sly campaign featuring "human only" signs on bus stops and park benches, as well as a "hotline" to report alien activity. (Executives say the line was dominated by fed-up spouses and parents.)
"The marketing matched the tone of the movie," says Sony's Rory Bruer. "It kind of took on a life of its own."
The raves and marketing blitz were particularly effective on older males, who made up 57% of the audience - or, as Jackson called them last month, his fellow nerds.
"I didn't want to just make movies for every demographic," he said before introducing footage of the film at the Comic-Con convention last month. "Sometimes you just want to work on a movie that's for geeks like me."
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was second with $22.5 million, a respectable drop of 59% from its debut last week. The film has taken in $98.8 million in 10 days.
The Time Traveler's Wife was No. 3 with $19.2 million, about $3 million more than most analysts projected.
Julie & Julia continues to play well, doing $12.4 million in its second weekend and lifting its 10-day total to $43.7 million.
The 3-D comedy G-Force was fifth with $6.9 million, which brings its month-long total to $99 million.
Disney's limited-release animated film Ponyo met projections with $3.5 million and ninth place.
Ticket sales were down 5% from last weekend but up 12% from the same weekend last year. Final figures are due Monday.