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Burn After Reading tops US box office

George Clooney in Burn After Reading

Story by Jack Foley

THE Coen brothers new film Burn After Reading has topped the US box office over the September 12-14 weekend (2008), setting a new record for the Oscar-winning duo in the process.

The spy comedy, starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, John Malkovich and Tilda Swinton, took an estimated $19.4 million, easily beating the brothers’ previous best The Ladykillers, which opened with $12.6 million in 2004.

In doing so, it narrowly beat Tyler Perry’s latest domestic saga The Family That Preys into second place with $18 million and the Robert De Niro-Al Pacino cop drama Righteous Kill into third with $16.5 million.

The critically maligned remake of the 1939 drama The Women, starring Meg Ryan, Eva Mendes and Annette Bening, debuted at No. 4 with just $10.1 million.

Last week’s box office winner, the Nicolas Cage action-thriller Bangkok Dangerous, fell to No. 8 with $2.4 million, taking its 10-day total to $12.5 million.

Overall, the flurry of new releases helped to boost the cumulative American box office by nearly 34 per cent over the same weekend last year and marked the first ‘‘up’‘ weekend for nearly two months States-side – and this despite mostly negative reviews.

Of all the new releases, Burn After Reading fared moderately with the critics, but Pacino and De Niro’s Righteous Kill was greeted with a distinctly lukewarm response, while The Women was slated.

Burn After Reading, which opens in UK cinemas this October, stars Brad Pitt as a hyperactive gym instructor who tries to extort money from a sacked CIA analyst (played by John Malkovich) whose sensitive memoirs he stumbles across. Clooney plays a womanizing federal marshal.

Find out more about Burn After Reading or watch character featurettes