Big budget doesn't always equal big success and small budget doesn't always mean small returns. That's a lesson Hollywood's not quick to pick up on but this weekend one studio profited from it. Sony/Tristar only dropped $30 million for sci-fi venture District 9 but within its first weekend the film took in $37 million and the number one spot at the box office.

Compare that with G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra which has struggled under the weight of a massive special-effects laden $175 million budget. After two weekends it still has yet to break the $100 million mark in domestic sales and only thanks to a boost from international moviegoers is it looking to break into the black. The Joes managed $22 million this weekend but not before dropping a painful 60% from last weekend's sales.

The Time Traveler's Wife debuted in third place with $19 million marking the highest cash opening for a film headlining Rachel McAdams. Comedy disappointment The Goods: Live Hard, Sell hard failed to generate laughs and generated even less ticket sales with only $5.3 million. In sixth place it barely beat out 5 week old Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince which looks to break the $300 million line by next weekend and overtake Up to be the number two movie of the year to date (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen still has a death grip on number one with nearly $400 million earned domestic).

Acclaimed animator Hayao Miyazaki's latest offering Ponyo, which has already banked $183 million internationally, finally opened in the U.S. this weekend. Showing in fewer than 1,000 theaters it still made $3.5 million taking ninth place.

For the full weekend totals check out the chart below.

District 9 * $37,000,000 - Total: $37,000,000 LW: N WR: 1
THTRS: 3,049
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra $22,500,000 - Total: $98,753,000 LW: 1 WR: 2
THTRS: 4,007
The Time Traveler's Wife * $19,205,000 - Total: $19,205,000 LW: N WR: 1
THTRS: 2,988
Julie & Julia $12,400,000 - Total: $43,684,000 LW: 2 WR: 2
THTRS: 2,354
G-Force $6,908,000 - Total: $99,049,000 LW: 3 WR: 4
THTRS: 3,065
The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard * $5,350,000 - Total: $5,350,000 LW: N WR: 1
THTRS: 1,838
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince $5,155,000 - Total: $283,893,000 LW: 4 WR: 5
THTRS: 2,771
The Ugly Truth $4,500,000 - Total: $77,502,000 LW: 6 WR: 4
THTRS: 2,733
Ponyo * $3,506,000 - Total: $3,506,000 LW: N WR: 1
THTRS: 927
(500) Days of Summer $3,025,000 - Total: $17,955,000 LW: 9 WR: 5
THTRS: 1,048

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