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Grossing well above its estimated $30 million production budget in just 3 days, Peter Jackson’s alien-arrival saga “District 9” soundly defeated “GI Joe” this weekend, taking in an estimated $37 million with audiences. The film’s impressive success comes despite its R-rating, “message driven” subject matter and the absence of any A-list stars.

“It’s a very cool start for a very cool movie,” Sony Studio head of worldwide distribution Rory Bruer told Variety.com today. “A lot of risk was taken, because it was a total unknown.”

With no shortage of recognizable names (or explosions), Paramount’s “GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra” was able to nab an additional $22.5 million with domestic audiences, pushing its overall cume much closer to even. Budgeted at $175 million, the Dennis Quaid/Sienna Miller led cast has so-far managed to bring in just under $165 million for studio Paramount, worldwide.

Rounding out the week’s Top 5: “The Time Traveler’s Wife” took in $19.2 million, a 3-day gross that Warner Bros head of distribution, Rory Bruer, is more than happy with. “It’s just a great result,” Bruer tells Variety, “and will stay in the market for some time to come.” The sci-fi romance starring Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams was made for $39 million.

In 4th place, Sony’s reunion of Amy Adams and Meryl Streep in “Julie & Julia” continued scoring big with audiences, earning $12.4 million this week for a ten-day gross of $43.6 million. Last but certainly not least, Disney’s “G-Force” brought in $6.9 million over the week, giving the animated comedy a 24-day worldwide total of just under $123 million.