Tarantino's "Basterds" marches into theaters

Fri Aug 21, 2009 2:04am EDT
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By Carl DiOrio

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - For better or worse, this weekend's opening of Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" looms large in the fiscal health of its producers and distributors at the Weinstein Co.

Executives at the New York indie say their financial woes have been greatly exaggerated in the press and that the company's fate won't be sealed by the success or failure of any one release. But it's safe to say the Weinsteins would welcome a big opening weekend for the World War II picture. Prerelease tracking is auspicious, indicating must-see interest in key segments of the audience.

One of four domestic wide releases opening Friday, "Basterds" is tracking best with 18- to 35-year-old males. But though the R-rated, 2 1/2-hour film will draw best among moviegoers bearing Y chromosomes, topliner Brad Pitt should help draw just enough females to help "Basterds" reach north of $25 million through Sunday.

Tarantino's best opening was 2004's "Kill Bill: Vol. 2," which unspooled with $25.1 million en route to a domestic total of $66.2 million.

"Basterds" follows a team of Jewish-American soldiers in Nazi-occupied France, with French actress Melanie Laurent and filmmaker/actor Eli Roth among the co-stars.

Universal is distributing the film internationally and will split all costs and proceeds evenly with the Weinsteins. The film's production costs totaled about $70 million, according to reports.

In any event, "Basterds" not only needs to open well but must sustain momentum over subsequent sessions. Some industryites suggest the Weinstein's scheduling of another R-rated movie, Rob Zombie's "Halloween II," to open just a week after "Basterds" shows the indie's need to boost theatrical cash flow. But they argue that the ploy could undermine the WWII pic's second session and note that the slasher sequel's prospects will be limited by Warner Bros.' 3D horror thriller "The Final Destination," opening August 28.

KID STUFF   Continued...

<p>Director Quentin Tarantino arrives for a screening of his new film "Inglourious Basterds" in Toronto, August 12, 2009. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>