'Django Unchained' Opens Strong in Italy, Unseating Muccino's 'Playing for Keeps'

Django Unchained - I'm Curious - H 2012

Django Unchained - I'm Curious - H 2012

Tarantino's film was inspired by Sergio Corbucci's Italian-made "Django," which starred Franco Nero in the title role.

ROME – Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained had a strong opening weekend in the country that inspired the film, taking in €3.4 million ($4.5 million) over its opening weekend, the strongest opening for a film so far in the young year.

The Spaghetti Western homage opened on 541 screens -- a high number for Italy -- unseating the previous week’s champ, Gabriele Muccino’s romantic comedy Playing for Keeps, which opened with a then-2013 high €2.0 million ($2.6 million) a week earlier -- a strong open in Italy following a lukewarm box office reception stateside. In the Italian press, Muccino, who is from Rome, blamed the film’s limited success in the U.S. on a “flawed strategy” of hitting cinemas when its mostly female target audience was busy Christmas shopping.

STORY: Foreign Box Office: 'Django Unchained' Unleashed Overseas

Playing for Keeps, released on 437 screens in Italy, slipped to fourth in its second weekend, behind Django Unchained, Michael Tiddes’ horror spoof Haunted House, and La migliore offerta (The Best Offer), a romantic drama from Italian Oscar winner Giuseppe Tornatore -- the first big-name Italian film released this year, now in its third week.

The weekend grosses in Italy are for the Thursday-to-Sunday period. Last October, Italian exhibitors said that most films would open in Italy on Thursdays as a way to increase interest on films.

Django Unchained was inspired by Sergio Corbucci’s 1966 Spaghetti Western classic Django, and the original Django, actor Franco Nero, had a small role in Tarantino’s film. The film started its European launch in Rome Jan. 4, including a special award presented to Tarantino from the International Rome Film Festival.