Weekend Box Office

Box Office Wrapup: Clint Races to #1 with Gran Torino

Bride Wars and The Unborn make soild openings, and Marley & Me stays strong.

by | January 11, 2009 | Comments

Clint Eastwood scored the biggest wide opening of his career with his latest effort Gran Torino which raced past the competition in its first weekend of national play to swipe the number one spot. However, the frame’s other new films all performed well too as the North American box office remained red hot. The wedding comedy Bride Wars debuted impressively in the bridesmaid slot while the horror flick The Unborn was close behind with a third place bow. Even the more narrow opening of the marital drama Not Easily Broken generated a sensational average. Studios released their first batch of new films since Christmas Day and audiences responded by filling up multiplexes powering the Top 20 films 15% ahead of last year.to $143M.

Following four weeks of amazing grosses in limited release, Gran Torino expanded from 84 to 2,808 theaters and collected an estimated $29M. Averaging a muscular $10,337, the R-rated pic about a grumpy old man and his community of Hmong immigrants gave the two-time Oscar winning director the best opening of his half-century career easily beating the $18.1M of 2000’s Space Cowboys, also a directorial and starring effort for Eastwood. That debut at today’s ticket prices would be roughly $24M which Torino still beat.

Warner Bros. has successfully used this release strategy before when targeting older adults at this time of year. Last winter, the studio opened the Jack Nicholson-Morgan Freeman film The Bucket List in 16 theaters on Christmas Day before expanding it wide this very weekend last January. It also shot straight to the top of the chart and grossed $19.4M for a $6,662 average. Four years ago, Warners platformed Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby into just eight locations in mid-December and slowly added more locations before going nationwide in its seventh weekend following the announcement of Oscar nominations. It took in $12.3M in its first wide frame and averaged $6,102. Gran Torino easily outmuscled both of those films.

What makes this weekend’s gross especially impressive is the fact that Torino has not been one of the top films getting all the awards buzz this winter. The studio has spent heavily on television advertising in major markets for over a month now to keep the film in the minds of moviegoers and is seeing the investment pay off. With a $40.1M cume, Gran Torino should have no problem soaring past the $100M mark to become one of Eastwood’s most popular films. His other big earners include Baby with $100.4M (about $115M at today’s prices), 1992’s Unforgiven with $101.2M ($173M today), and 1993’s In the Line of Fire with $102.3M ($175M today). Clint pics have historically had strong legs.

The wedding comedy Bride Wars opened in second place pulling in an estimated $21.5M for Fox. Starring Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway as best friends whose weddings get scheduled on the same day, the PG-rated pic averaged a solid $6,665 from 3,226 playdates. It was the widest of the four new films opening or expanding into wide release this weekend. Bride skewed heavily female as women made up a sizable 80% of the audience. The film played to a broad age group though as 52% of the crowd was under 25. Studios often release female-skewing films in January since the football playoffs make males harder to reach.

Fox generated an opening similar to the one it enjoyed last January with another wedding-related comedy. 27 Dresses starring Katherine Heigl bowed to $23M and a $7,526 average over the three-day portion of the Martin Luther King holiday frame in 2008 on its way to $76.8M. Reviews for the $30M-budgeted Bride Wars were poor, but ticket buyers instead responded to the starpower, premise, and comedy.

Universal’s supernatural thriller The Unborn was an overachiever this weekend surging past expectations to score a $21.1M opening, according to estimates. Creeping into 2,357 theaters, the PG-13 fright flick scared up a superb $8,950 average. The debut was on par with producer Rogue Pictures’ horror hit from last summer The Strangers which also exceeded pre-release forecasts during its launch which resulted in a $21M weekend and $8,515 average. Rogue was just purchased by Relativity Media.

Unborn benefitted from being the first horror film of the new year so competition was minimal. Past terrorfests that found success in early January include 2006’s Hostel which debuted to $19.6M and the prior year’s White Noise which bowed to $24.1M. A slick and creepy marketing campaign plus a marketplace filled with old leftovers gave fans a reason to come out and see something new and scary. Teens and young adults made up the bulk of the audience with 75% of the crowd being under 25. Females made up 55%. Unborn kicked off a new year’s feast for horror fans who will soon be attacked by My Bloody Valentine 3D next weekend, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans on the following weekend, The Uninvited on the frame after that, and a new Friday the 13th next month on Friday the 13th.

Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, and the 22 dogs that played the title character of Marley & Me dropped to fourth after two weeks on top and grossed an estimated $11.4M. Down a steep 53%, the Fox release upped its total to $123.7M putting it at number 17 on the list of top-grossing releases from 2008. Brad Pitt was one step behind at number five with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button which collected an estimated $9.5M, off 49%, for a $94.3M cume for Paramount.

Tumbling 58% was Adam Sandler’s Bedtime Stories which took in $8.6M for Disney, according to estimates, raising the sum to $97.2M. Operation Valkyrie was in effect at number seven with an estimated $6.7M, down 53%, lifting the cume for Tom Cruise and his eyepatch to $71.5M. Yet another star-driven film, Jim Carrey’s comedy Yes Man, followed with an estimated $6.2M, dropping 56%. Total for Warner Bros. is now $89.4M.

Sony released the marital faith-based drama Not Easily Broken on a small scale but was met with solid results in ninth place. The PG-13 film grossed an estimated $5.6M from only 724 theaters for a terrific $7,735 average. Budgeted at just $5M, Broken played to an audience of mature women. Females made up 70% of the crowd while 69% was over the age of 30. The Morris Chestnut starrer is an adaptation of the book of the same name by pastor and author T.D. Jakes who has built up a loyal following in the African American community over the years.

Rounding out the top ten was Will Smith’s odd drama Seven Pounds which crumbled by 61% to an estimated $3.9M for a cume of $66.8M for Sony. The jellyfish flick will end the superstar’s streak of eight consecutive $100M+ blockbusters which began back in 2002.

Numerous Golden Globe contenders in the Drama categories continued to tout their nominations in their advertising in hopes of luring in more audiences. Best Picture nominee Slumdog Millionaire was number 11 for the weekend with an estimated $3.7M, off 21%, for a total of $34.1M for Fox Searchlight. Miramax’s Doubt which scored four acting nominations including Best Actress for Meryl Streep fell a troubling 50% to an estimated $2.5M lifting the sum to $22.9M.

The Leonardo DiCaprio-Kate Winslet pic Revolutionary Road, a nominee for Best Picture, expanded from 38 to 135 sites and grossed an estimated $1.4M for a solid $10,667 average. Paramount Vantage has taken in $3.2M to date. Winslet’s other offering during awards season The Reader dipped 15% to an estimated $1.4M as well pushing the cume to $5.5M for The Weinstein Co.

Focus dropped 34% with its film Milk which collected an estimated $1.3M. Starring Best Actor nominee Sean Penn, the gay rights pic upped its total to $19.1M. Fox Searchlight expanded The Wrestler starring rival Best Actor nominee Mickey Rourke from 18 to 60 sites. The New Jersey-set tale took in an estimated $874,000 for a strong $14,567 average putting the sum at $2.8M. Frank Langella is also up for the Actor prize with his film Frost/Nixon which dropped 35% to an estimated $912,000 for a $7.7M cume.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $123.3M which was up a healthy 25% from last year when The Bucket List expanded wide into the top spot with $19.4M; and up a superb 36% from 2006 when Stomp the Yard opened at number one with $21.8M.

Tag Cloud

rotten movies we love Nat Geo technology science fiction USA Network cinemax Cannes Arrowverse Sony Pictures Emmys DC Comics Ovation renewed TV shows HBO Go Opinion composers SXSW movie blockbuster what to watch binge Writers Guild of America Super Bowl comedies reviews finale Spectrum Originals name the review screen actors guild Christmas worst TBS mission: impossible Tumblr TNT Freeform Discovery Channel Adult Swim Pop TV History 007 President VOD TIFF war RT21 hispanic politics SundanceTV based on movie Emmy Nominations crime Summer batman Pop children's TV free movies 2016 dc halloween Martial Arts Ellie Kemper Warner Bros. streaming Black Mirror Netflix teaser Brie Larson A24 Reality Film news 2019 GIFs Shondaland Action Lifetime Christmas movies Britbox Netflix Christmas movies San Diego Comic-Con Crunchyroll cancelled TV series Endgame anthology sequel ratings Women's History Month football versus 2015 Marvel Studios fast and furious YouTube Premium die hard Set visit GoT thriller psycho Pirates Mindy Kaling Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt anime disaster spain TCA crossover Extras VICE Tubi Disney Channel Polls and Games television indie Superheroes Tarantino stop motion Star Wars Peacock Lucasfilm Family dogs spinoff Marvel Television YouTube Red animated Drama TLC sag awards Amazon Prime TCA Awards all-time discovery See It Skip It Fox News Baby Yoda comic Hallmark Sci-Fi zombie Character Guide DC Universe First Reviews Pet Sematary reboot dramedy Binge Guide Walt Disney Pictures Marvel documentary twilight New York Comic Con canceled TV shows best parents films CBS Apple Black History Month universal monsters 71st Emmy Awards game show cars supernatural Fantasy The Arrangement Rocketman Rom-Com Nominations romantic comedy PaleyFest transformers documentaries latino Quiz Showtime Chilling Adventures of Sabrina true crime Teen BET Comic Book FOX 4/20 psychological thriller Paramount Network Tomatazos National Geographic concert dark Stephen King chucky American Society of Cinematographers elevated horror Winter TV crime thriller justice league VH1 facebook Election Chernobyl BBC America Disney streaming service Pixar Pride Month Cartoon Network Disney breaking bad movies rotten Masterpiece Captain marvel Mary Tyler Moore vampires YouTube MCU Spike dragons TV E! south america AMC book sitcom DGA ITV Calendar tv talk crime drama Anna Paquin Podcast LGBT spider-man Red Carpet werewolf Marathons Holidays Vudu Logo comics theme song 21st Century Fox robots kids zombies Music 24 frames Awards Schedule a nightmare on elm street superhero Thanksgiving E3 Amazon miniseries cancelled TV shows mutant Rock DC streaming service ghosts HBO Comics on TV Western TV renewals BET Awards festivals FX on Hulu cartoon CMT El Rey venice Mary poppins classics IFC Spring TV Crackle 45 OWN stand-up comedy Countdown cops Columbia Pictures franchise sports Disney+ Disney Plus NYCC Star Trek Trivia MSNBC TCA Winter 2020 Travel Channel Academy Awards Holiday 2018 The Purge X-Men Valentine's Day A&E critics nature revenge aliens medical drama Hear Us Out blaxploitation scorecard ESPN Kids & Family Television Critics Association witnail Musicals slashers Acorn TV HBO Max Hulu Hallmark Christmas movies cancelled unscripted BBC Toys Oscars Sneak Peek Nickelodeon indiana jones casting Mystery video on demand TCM LGBTQ comiccon Mary Poppins Returns CNN Paramount Cosplay USA First Look PBS BAFTA dceu Video Games Horror Watching Series 20th Century Fox Syfy Interview Amazon Prime Video Creative Arts Emmys DirecTV The Walking Dead Superheroe spanish language toy story hollywood ABC docudrama emmy awards Animation Turner remakes zero dark thirty ABC Family green book mockumentary Best and Worst series asian-american golden globes doctor who BBC One Box Office 72 Emmy Awards CW Seed The CW award winner cancelled television travel Classic Film Reality Competition singing competition directors biography stoner Starz RT History 2020 Epix Turner Classic Movies quibi Disney Plus cats Country adaptation Infographic Grammys Dark Horse Comics joker cooking OneApp historical drama FXX Amazon Studios Comedy Winners child's play Trophy Talk Shudder Comedy Central police drama social media independent Heroines Mudbound natural history Song of Ice and Fire Certified Fresh SDCC Trailer jamie lee curtis Sundance Now video NBC Premiere Dates Photos Awards Tour obituary criterion Apple TV Plus IFC Films period drama Musical Fall TV political drama Esquire TruTV 2017 TV Land GLAAD TCA 2017 screenings nfl festival sequels FX scary movies hist Lifetime Sundance TV boxoffice satire Sundance Television Academy Rocky space The Witch toronto laika adventure Food Network Ghostbusters Lionsgate spy thriller strong female leads Year in Review Universal foreign WarnerMedia talk show Bravo christmas movies WGN harry potter cults PlayStation diversity Elton John romance Film Festival canceled Avengers richard e. Grant nbcuniversal Biopics CBS All Access worst movies YA APB MTV Funimation serial killer Apple TV+ game of thrones