North American box office: ‘Gran Torino’ drives off with the weekend

If it’s January, it must be time for the platforming awards bait to start making a splash in wide release:

1. Gran Torino: $29.5 million (NEW in wide release)
2. Bride Wars: $21.1 million (NEW)
3. The Unborn: $19.8 million (NEW)
4. Marley & Me: $11.4 million (3rd week; drops 53%)
5. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: $9.2 million (3rd week; drops 51%)

actual numbers, not estimates
People like Clint Eastwood. Torino has been doing well in limited release, and it really took off in its first weekend playing wide. In fact, in real terms, it’s Eastwood’s best wide opening weekend ever, by a long shot, as either director or star… though, as Box Office Mojo points out, when we adjust for inflation, Every Which Way But Loose — in which Eastwood costarred with an orangutan — opened better.

Box Office Mojo also notes that this weekend:

overall business was up nearly 13 percent over the same weekend last year as well as on the high end for January in general.

Over the next weeks and months, we’ll see if that’s an anomaly, or if the depressing economic situation may be driving folks to cinematic escapism.

On the arthouse side, business was good, too. But the list of films with the top per-screen averages is pretty evenly divided between wide releases and limited ones, with more than a few movies with no awards buzz at all in the ranking:

Defiance: $34,092 (on each of 2 screens)
The Wrestler: $14,140 (60 screens)
Revolutionary Road: $10,558 (135 screens)
Gran Torino: $10,500
Last Chance Harvey: $8,854 (16 screens)
Waltz with Bashir: $8,842 (8 screens)
The Unborn: $8,405 (2,357 venues)
Che: $7,523 (5 screens)
Not Easily Broken: $7,340 (724 venues)
Bride Wars: $6,528 (3,226 venues)
Slumdog Millionaire: $6,293 (601 venues)
The Secret of the Grain: $6,290 (1 screen)

That may be the real indication of an overall bump in interest in going to the movies: it’s not just those who are aware of critics’ awards who are heading out to see a movie.

[numbers via Box Office Mojo]

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Tue, Jan 13, 2009 7:09am

I have a soft place in my heart for Every Which Way But Loose and Any Which Way You Can… maybe because I was 12 when I first saw them? Whatever the reason, I still get a kick out of the line “Right turn, Clyde.”