Brad Pitt did not grow a mustache in vain.
The take marked the biggest opener of Tarantino's career, and one of the biggest of Pitt's.
Elsewhere, District 9 fell to second, but kept making its $30 million budget look like a killer investment.
Drilling down into the numbers:
• Tarantino's previous weekend-best was Kill Bill Vol. 2's $25 million opening.
• For Pitt, the $70 million Basterds' debut basically ranks just ahead of Ocean's Thirteen's and just below Ocean's Eleven's.
• District 9 grossed $18.9 million, and pushed its domestic bank account total to $73.5 million, well more than double its production budget.
• While Tarantino has recovered nicely from Grindhouse, his cohort hasn't. Robert Rodriguez's family film Shorts managed only $6.6 million in its debut, the weakest for Rodriguez since his film-festival breakthrough, El Mariachi.
• Welcome to the real, cruel world, Post Grad. The Alexis Bledel comedy followed in the footsteps of I Love You, Beth Cooper and Bandslam, and fell right into a hole: a $2.8 million, 10th place debut.
• (500) Days of Summer ($2.4 million), just about the only teen/twentysomething comedy to make a mark this summer, exited the Top 10 after a $22.2 million run that made very good on its reported $7.5 million budget.
• All Renée Zellweger needed to change her box office luck was a little George Hamilton. The Zellweger-led, Hamilton-inspired road-trip movie, My One and Only, looked big in limited release, grossing $60,708 off only four screens.
• Guess the X-Games has to be seen in person to be believed. X-Games 3D: The Movie bombed, averaging only $572 at each of its nearly 1,400 theaters.
Here's a complete look at the weekend's top-grossing films based on Friday-Sunday estimates as compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
(Originally published Aug. 23, 2009, at 9:03 a.m. PT)
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