DISTRICT 9 IS #1 AT THE BOX OFFICE WHILE G.I. JOE FALLS

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The first feature from director Neil Blomkamp, which was produced by Peter Jackson and financed by QED International at a cost of just $30 million, earned a studio-estimated $14.2 million on its opening day.

As with all genre films popular with the Comic-Con crowd, there was likely lots of pent-up excitement and a larger-than-average opening day audience. “District 9” could easily end up performing like the low-budget horror movie “Cloverfield,” which made $17.1 million on its opening day but quickly lost its momentum and ultimately earned only double its opening weekend. If “District 9” drops more than 15% today compared to Friday, it will be apparent it’s on a similar track.

Nonetheless, an opening weekend over $30 million is very strong for “District 9,” given its low budget. Sony bought distribution rights in North America and most foreign territories.

It initially seemed that “District 9” would be in a tight race with “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” the weekend’s other big new movie, for first place, but it is thus far blowing the competition away. Warner Bros.’ female-targeted adaptation of the bestselling book sold $7.7 million worth of tickets in the U.S. and Canada on Friday, setting it up for a so-so opening weekend of just over $20 million.

Warner Bros.’ New Line division spent $39 million to produce the movie, which stars Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams.

“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,” meanwhile, took a big fall, in part due to its mostly male audience defecting to “District 9,” no doubt. Paramount’s big-budget event film earned $7 million on Friday, a drop of 68% from its opening day. While its declines the rest of the weekend likely won’t be quite as severe, it could easily decline 60% or more on its second weekend, a sign of lagging moviegoer interest in the $175-million production.

So far it has made $83.2 million domestically.

ON THIS DAY IN MOVIES: THE FAN

fan_ver2On this day in 1996, TRI-STAR PICTURES released THE FAN. Directed by TONY SCOTT from the novel by PETER ABRAHAMS, this story of an obsessed psycho baseball fan having a very bad day starred ROBERT DeNIRO and WESLEY SNIPES with a terrific supporting cast featuring ELLEN BARKIN, JOHN LEGUIZAMO, BENICIO DEL TORO, PATTI D’ARBANVILLE and DAN BUTLER. A tidy little thriller.