Tarantino Nazi pic rakes in $14.3 million

If the Weinstein Co. is chilling any champagne for the opening of Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, it’s okay to pop it now. “Inglourious Basterds” made a killing Friday, reaping an estimated $14.3 million from 3,165 theaters to easily score Tarantino’s best opening day ever at the domestic box office.

While much has been written about the Weinstein Co.’s financial straits in recent months, the opening for “Basterds” comes as a blue sky for the pic company as it prepares for award season. Next weekend, the Weinstein Co. will make another go at the No. 1 box office spot with Rob Zombie’s “Halloween II,” a sequel to his 2007 reboot of the horror franchise which still owns the Labor Day weekend opening record with a four-day of $30.6 million.

“Basterds” was co-produced and co-distributed internationally by Universal Pictures. Tarantino also won his best opening day in France with “Basterds” on Wednesday with $1.4 million. Overseas, the film is playing on a total of 2,620 playdates in 22 territories including the U.K. and Germany.

Among Weinstein Co. releases, “Basterds” owns the second highest opening day for the studio behind 2006’s “Scary Movie 4″ ($19 million). “Basterds” also broke “District 9’s” record from last Friday ($14.2 million) as the second highest R-rated opener in August behind “American Pie 2.” ($16.5 million). Tarantino’s previous B.O. bow highs for his solo-helming work belonged to 2004’s “Kill Bill Vol. 2″ which drew a first day of $10.8 million and a three-day weekend of $25.1 million.

Having been a pet project of Tarantino’s for at least 10 years, “Basterds” tells the tale of a bunch of WWII Jewish American soldiers who ruthlessly eliminate Nazis. The film touts mostly an international cast with the exception of Brad Pitt, Mike Myers, Eli Roth (“Hostel” helmer), Diane Kruger (“National Treasure”) and B.J. Novak (NBC’s “The Office”). However, since winning the best-actor trophy at Cannes for “Basterds,” Austrian-born thesp Christoph Waltz has been winning critical praise for his portrayal as a fierce Nazi colonel. “Basterds” borrows its title from Enzo Castellari’s 1978 film “Inglorious Bastards.”

Among those new releases opening against “Basterds” yesterday were “Shorts” from Tarantino’s “Grindhouse” and “Sin City” co-helmer, Robert Rodriguez. The Warner Bros. pic, aimed at Rodriguez’s “Spy Kids” family demo, bowed in sixth yesterday with $2.1 million off 3,105. “Post Grad,” a Fox Atomic release geared at young femmes, starring Alexis Bledel of TV’s “Gilmore Girls” and Michael Keaton grossed $1.03 million in eighth place off 1,959.

Disney released its ESPN sports doc “X Games 3D: The Movie” in 1,399 venues where it made an estimated $277,000. Sony/TriStar’s political alien sci-fi pic “District 9″ owned second with $5.5 million, down 61% on 3,050 with an eight-day cume of $60.1 million.

Paramount’s “G.I. Joe” took third with $3.6 million, repping a 49% decline off 3,953 with a running domestic cume in its third Friday of $111.6 million.

Warner Bros./New Line’s romantic drama “The Time Traveler’s Wife” charted fourth with $3.3 million, down 57% with a current haul of $30.7 million while Sony’s “Julie and Julia” slotted fifth with $2.6 million off 2,463, a 28% dip, and a running total of $52.9 million.

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