Sometimes you need neither big-name actors nor a ginormous budget -- just a cool high concept and some nifty advertising that knows how to get the pitch across. The sci-fi-action-allegory District 9 knocked G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra off its short-lived perch with a $37 million weekend. Word-of-mouth appears to be strong, so this one has a chance to make something of itself in a market that will grow less crowded over the next few weeks. G.I. Joe fell just under 60%, which was as expected; it's roughly at $100 million after two weeks.

The weekend's other high-profile newcomer was The Time Traveler's Wife, which grossed $19 million, beating out the last time-traveling romance to hit theaters, the Keanu Reeves/Sandra Bullock weepie The Lake House. (That one opened to $13 million but held up well thereafter). Then there were a few relative dumps: Jeremy Piven's The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard landed in 6th place with $5.4 million; Hayao Miyazaki's Ponyo wound up in 9th place with $3.5 million (about par for the course for a US Miyazaki release); and the pretty damn good Bandslam turned into one of the year's biggest flops, grossing $2.3 million on over $2000 screens. Figures that the rare attempt to appeal to the Disney Channel demographic without force-feeding it Disney Channel garbage does absolutely no business.

Among non-G.I. Joe holdovers, Julie & Julia did reasonably well, which makes sense given the extent to which it's targeting older audiences not likely to run out to the theater on opening weekend. And Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, creeping toward $300 million domestic, is now assured second place in the franchise.

The full top 13 (!) after the jump.

1 - District 9 (TriStar) - $37.00 ($12,135) - $37.00
2 - G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (Paramount) - $22.50 ($5,615) - $98.75
3 - The Time Traveler's Wife (New Line) - $19.21 ($6,427) - $19.21
4 - Julie & Julia (Sony) - $12.40 ($5,268) - $43.68
5 - G-Force (Disney) - $6.91 ($2,254) - $99.05
6 - The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard (Paramount Vantage) - $5.35 ($2,911) - $5.35
7 - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Warner Bros.) - $5.16 ($1,860) - $283.89
8 - The Ugly Truth (Sony) - $4.50 ($1,647) - $77.50
9 - Ponyo (Disney) - $3.51 ($3,782) - $3.51
10 - (500) Days of Summer (Fox Searchlight) - 3.03 ($2,886) - $17.96
11 - Funny People (Universal) - $3.02 ($1,170) - $47.92
12 - A Perfect Getaway (Universal) - $2.79 ($1,295) - $11.50
13 - Bandslam (Summit) - $2.25 ($1,061) - $2.25

Next week is somewhat of an off week, with the long and talky Inglorious Basterds going up against Robert Rodriguez's Shorts and Post Grad.