By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood August 17, 2009 at 8:54AM
Sony marketing took rookie Neill Blomkamp's $30-million VFX thriller to a terrific estimated $37 million--it wasn't the stunning reviews alone. All the Comic-Con raves and critics and folks on twitter and facebook had a viral impact. The R-rated sci-fi thriller opened well to its largely male base. A sustained hold will require other audience segments to come in--and I just don't know how this plays for women. They went to see The Time Traveler's Wife this weekend, which nabbed lousy reviews and came in at a solid $19 million.
But the big box office news is also the 59% plunge of the second weekend of G.I. Joe and the excellent hold, only a 38% drop, of Julie & Julia, starring Hollywood's most reliable movie star these days, the 60-year-old Meryl Streep. I got a kick at seeing her on the Charlie Rose Show (clip below) obviously reveling, after years of misogyny and career ups and downs, in her current hot streak--and stardom. Nora Ephron admitted that she needed the post-Devil Wears Prada Streep to get Julie & Julia made. And Mamma Mia! was a huge global hit too ($602 million worldwide). Here's The Independent on why economists love Streep. And the Academy is over the moon for her too. An Oscar nomination for Streep is secure.
Not so sure how the Academy will handle District 9, which will be on many film critics' ten best lists at year's end. But it's an intense genre thriller. Maybe VFX and some technicals. Neill Blomkamp is an outsider. LOTR Oscar-winner Peter Jackson, who made the film possible, is not.