GLORIOUS OPENING FOR INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS

Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds opened with an estimated $37.6 million over the weekend, well above analysts' forecasts of $25-30 million. It marked the best opening for a Tarantino film ever and gave a much-needed lift to the nearly hitless Weinstein Co., which co-financed it with Universal, the film's distributor. Moreover it lifted the box office as a whole some 27 percent above its mark a year ago -- making it the third consecutive weekend of substantial gain over 2008. Tarantino's previous best start was 2004's Kill Bill Vol. 2, which took in $25.1 million. Most analysts credited a highly focused marketing campaign for Basterds's success, which enjoyed similar hit status overseas, where it took in $27.5 million in 22 countries, to bring its worldwide total to $65.1 million. TheWrap.com said that the Weinstein Company "shrewdly invited top Twitterers" to the opening to spread the word. Added the correspondent for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz: "It seems pretty clear that a 'Twitter effect' at the box office helped propel the word of mouth to a much higher box office total ... than was anticipated." Perhaps most surprising for a film that suggests that the war could have ended far sooner than it did had American soldiers and European Jews committed atrocities against German soldiers, including scalping, head bashing, and suicide bombings, the film was well received in Germany. Der Tagesspiegel called it "a wonderful futuristic-retro fantasy." Die Welt commented: "Historical precision is necessary, but fantasy helps us achieve a catharsis." Meanwhile, Sony's District 9 slipped to second place with about $18.9 million, while G.I. Joe dropped to third with $12.5 million. The Warner Bros. family film Shorts opened in sixth place with just $3.1 million, while in its debut, Fox Searchlight's Post Grad posted a disappointing $2.7 million. And X-Games 3D: The Movie suffered fatal injuries as it opened with just $800,000.

The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Box Office Mojo:

1. Inglourious Basterds, $37.6 million; 2. District 9, $18.9 million; 3. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, $12.5 million; 4. The Time Traveler's Wife, $10 million; 5. Julie & Julia, $9 million; 6. Shorts, $6.6 million; 7. G-Force, $4.2 million; 8. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, $3.5 million; 9. The Ugly Truth, $2.9 million; 10. Post Grad, $2.8 million.

MOVIE REVIEWS: POST GRAD

Fox Searchlight's Post Grad received little marketing push, and decent critical reviews failed to help it much at the box office. It's a feel-good movie that had the desired effect on most critics. Typical was Roger Ebert's reaction in the Chicago Sun-Times. "Oh, it's not a great movie," he wrote. "It won't alter the course of cinema. It won't make any 10 best lists. If you're cynical or jaded, it might not get past you. But here is the first movie in a long time that had me actually admitting I wouldn't mind seeing a sequel." His cross-town colleague, Michael Phillips, writing in the Chicago Tribune, agreed, calling the movie, a "minor but agreeable romantic comedy." He particularly singled out the performance of Michael Keaton. "Watching Keaton," he wrote, "you're reminded how much this hugely talented actor can do with a simple setup, a few deft physical maneuvers and unpredictable timing." But Kyle Smith in the New York Post faulted the film for "excessive niceness," noting that the accusation may be unfair, "but Post Grad is so swaddled in good intentions that it's like taking a very short journey cushioned on all sides by air bags. That are stuffed with cotton candy." And It was all a bit too much for Greg Quill, who, after describing the plot in the Toronto Star, wrote: "If this sounds like the plotline of an episode of Father Knows Best or The Brady Bunch, you're on the money. With its family of well-off, well-meaning bumblers living large and oblivious in a cozy, all-white pocket of suburbia, Post Grad is an insipid throwback to a sanctified and safe middle-class America that no longer exists, if it ever did."

MOVIE REVIEWS: X-GAMES 3D: THE MOVIE

X-Games 3D: The Movie may be the first 3D movie of the season to fall flat. Sure, it's nice to see skateboards flying into your face and dirt kicked off the screen, Roger Moore wrote in the Orlando Sentinel, but mostly the movie amounts to "a 90-minute commercial for the games, lacking much in the line of drama, compelling characters or story line." Ethan Gilsdorf in the Boston Globe had the identical reaction, writing, "The movie can seem more an ad for the X Games (and ESPN Films) than a real sports documentary." But Peter Hartlaub in the San Francisco Chronicle acknowledged that the 3D effects are sometimes pretty spectacular, particularly the final sequence featuring "air" skateboarders. "Thankfully, the big air skateboarding competition at the end contains all the drama that the earlier segments lack," Hartlaub wrote. "The cameras follow skateboarding innovators Bob Burnquist, Danny Way and Jake Brown everywhere -- from the precipice of the top of the ramp to the medical center underneath the stadium -- and the big finish alone is worth the price of admission."