Quentin Tarantino's World War II drama Inglourious Basterds -- in which a group of American Jews hunts the Nazis -- demolished the opposition in movie theatres in most of the 22 markets where it opened on Friday, including North America, France and the United Kingdom.
Its big opening brought much excitement to the summer movie scene. The film, starring Brad Pitt, will roll out in other countries in the next three months. It has grossed about $65 million in three days, giving its director the best opening of his career. It could become his biggest hit since the 1994 film Pulp Fiction, which grossed about $250 million worldwide.
As the summer movie season is coming to an end, Hollywood has much to rejoice. For one thing, the duds have been few, and most of them cost less than $100 million like The Hangover ($30 million), District 9 ($35 million) and Inglorious Basterds ($70 million). So was the case with the romantic comedy The Proposal. Its worldwide gross could exceed $300 million, and its lead Sandra Bullock has proved that a woman who is over 40 can dominate the box office too.
Quite a bit of worldwide appeal of Inglourious Basterds is because of Brad Pitt, who has a bigger following abroad than in America. The reviews were mixed but they were more on the positive side. In Los Angeles Times, Kenneth Turan complained the film, which is inspired by Dirty Dozen to an extent, was too glacial for good part.
But Roger Ebert was ecstatic about it in his Chicago Sun-Times review. 'Inglourious Basterds is a big, bold, audacious war movie that will annoy some, startle others and demonstrate once again that he's the real thing, a director of quixotic delights,' Ebert wrote. 'For starters (and at this late stage after the premiere in May at Cannes, I don't believe I'm spoiling anything), he provides World War II with a much-needed alternative ending.'
Even Ice Age: Dawn of Dinosaurs, which is headed for an awesome $825 million worldwide, cost $80 million and became one of the most profitable films of the decade. In theatres outside of North America, the movie surprised the industry observers by beating the latest Harry Potter saga. But the latter led the overall box office because in America, it fared far better than Ice Age: Dawn of Dinosaurs.
Among the big budget films, costing $150-$200 million, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is nearing its run. Though it did not come close to the expected $1 billion global gross, it is projected to wind up with an awesome $925 million which could be difficult to beat this year.
The Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen also grossed over $800 million. Another film inspired by toys, G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra, is expected to gross over $300 million worldwide and become profitable.
Though there weren't films in the $500-$800 million range, there were half a dozen that exceeded $400 million gross worldwide. Among them is the Tom Hanks' drama Angels & Demons headed for nearly $500 million. Hanks has once again become bankable after the failure of Charlie Wilson's War two years ago.
Angels & Demons is among several films this summer that did rather disappointing business in America but fared gloriously abroad, bringing in solid profits for the studios, with more to come when they will be out on DVD and Blu-Ray.
But the biggest surprise worldwide is the success of the critically acclaimed comedy The Hangover, which cost peanuts compared to Hanks movie; it is headed for a $400 million run. Most American comedies don't fare too well in foreign territories. American jokes don't travel well abroad, the exhibitors say. But The Hangover is an exception.