Nikki Finke gets these weekend numbers sooner than just about anybody now:
“…a bigger than expected $38M first weekend for director Quentin Tarantino. (The most moolah anybody projected for Friday-Sunday had been $30M.) “The Weinsteins live to fight another day,” quipped one rival studio exec about the World War II film on which beleaguered The Weinstein Company has hung its financial future… Still, after all that buzz — a lot of it awful — at the Cannes Film Festival in May, it’s a miracle the movie didn’t tank. Especially since Tarantino changed up the film but didn’t cut its 2-hour, 32-minute, running time, which is now a minute longer.”
The shot of Melanie Laurent above lights the fuse for the most bravura 40 minutes of sustained filmmaking brilliance I’ve seen all summer, a cataclysmic set piece in a movie built of wall-to-wall set pieces. An earlier scene between Laurent and Christoph Waltz is maybe the best supporting actress turn of the year thus far. In another of his evocative reviews, our buddy Craig Kennedy at LiC describes it like this:
She owns one of the best scenes where Shosanna encounters the dangerous Landa. She knows who he is and exactly what he‚Äôs capable of if he discovers her Jewish heritage, but she keeps her emotions just barely in check only to later melt down at the first safe opportunity. It‚Äôs a perfectly played scene that reminds the audience of the real undercurrent of horror lingering just below the film‚Äôs at times glib surface.
Tarantino’s most emotionally engaging film since Jackie Brown, and one some are saying matches Pulp Fiction in gasp-inducing audacity and sheer balls-out excitement, I think we might be looking at the actual kick-ass kickoff of Oscar season. The most brutal movie of 2009 is one of the most beautiful, too, with an old-school aura that felt at times like long lost sequences of lush decadence from Luchino Visconti. I can easily see Inglourious Basterds vying for Art Direction and Cinematography in addition to predestined Supporting Actor and Screenplay honors. With solid categories like that to back up its prestige, the only thing standing in Basterds way for the top noms are the strength of its competition between now and December. I’m seeing it again tonight with my own gang of basterds, so add another 50 bucks to that weekend estimate.
In other money-machine news, District 9 adds another $18.8 million, bringing its total to $73M.