Despite the controversy it has ignited, or perhaps because of it, "Django Unchained" is now Quentin Tarantino's highest-grossing domestic release with a box-office take nearing $128 million since the film's Christmas Day debut.
The movie surpassed Tarantino's last blockbuster, "Inglourious Basterds," which earned $120.5 million in the U.S. and Canada after it debuted in 2009.
The R-rated "Django," which centers on the epic journey of a slave-turned-free-man (Jamie Foxx) and his quest to save his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), landed two Golden Globes on Sunday (Best Supporting Actor, Christoph Waltz; Best screenplay, Tarantino) and five Academy Award nominations last week.
Weinstein Co., the studio behind the domestic release, touted the film's achievement in a news release Thursday and added an endorsement of the film from the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, in a strategic attempt to give the movie more cultural heft.
The movie "captures the cultural, physical and psychological pain heaped upon the lives of men and women of African descent -- expressing in dramatic terms the existential nightmare endured by so many for so long," Jackson said.
"By this measure, the scar of violence, exploitation and subrogation made evident -- and the focus of this film -- is not just a picture of random violence, but portrays America at its lowest moment as a nation," he added. "The violence that we see portrayed in this drama might well renew our focus on the 256 years of racial violence that continues to be an indelible chapter in the history that is America.”
The movie's domestic popularity is not that surprising considering the huge advance interest in the film. More questionable is the picture's international appeal considering the subject matter is so distinctly American. Yet early numbers out of Europe suggest that film, which opened in just a few territories Wednesday and will debut in 23 more Thursday, will perform strong overseas.
Whether or not the movie can rival the international performance of "Basterds" remains to be seen. The 2009 WWII Nazi drama did $200 million abroad, accounting for the majority of its worldwide gross.
Germany's previews on Wednesday, probably bolstered by the performance of German citizen Christoph Waltz, took in $782,000.
The movie collected $1.2 million in France on its first day in theaters. It also took in $98,000 in Belgium and $69,000 in Switzerland's French areas -- both about the same as the amounts "Basterds" grossed on its first day in those countries. The German and Italian sections of Switzerland open Thursday.