After garnering rave reviews and winning over fanboys at Comic-Con, Sony’s thrilling sci-fi epic District 9 delivered the goods with a $37 million opening weekend in 3,049 theaters nationwide. Directed by newcomer Neil Blomkamp and featuring a cast of unknowns, the movie features a high-energy storyline, clever socio-political subtext and well-integrated visual effects (courtesy of Weta Workshop, Weta Digital and Image Engine Design). Peter Jackson produced the R-rated movie, which stands to gain momentum throughout the next couple of months.
Disney’s Ponyo came in at No. 9, with an estimated $3.5 million gross in 927 theaters during its debut weekend. Hayao Miyazaki’s beautiful and well-reviewed movie was more aimed at very young theatergoers. The acclaimed director’s 2002 feature Spirited Away won the Animated Feature Oscar, but made only $10 million at the North American box office, while in 2007, Howl’s Moving Castle made only $4.7 million domestically. Loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, Ponyo set a box-office record in Japan by earning $160 million in 2008.
Paramount’s much-ravaged G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra landed in the No. 2 position (falling 59%) to an estimated $22.5 million bringing its cume to $98.8 million. Warner Bros/New Line’s The Time Traveler’s Wife provided women with the perfect alternative outing to the testosterone-soaked G.I. Joe and brought int $19 million at No. 3. Julie and Julie landed on the 4th spot with $12.4, while Disney’s guinea pig feature G-Force came in at No. 5 with $6.9 million.