Movie Stars: Eastwood, Clint–Commercial Appeal in Multi-Generational Dramas

Warner’s expansion of Clint Eastwood’s drama, Gran Torino, jumped into the top spot Friday with $9.6 million, giving the director-star his best wide opening day ever at the box office.

Expanding its theaters from 84 to 2,808, Gran Torino’s outshined Eastwood’s previous opening day record of $5.4 million posted by 2000’s Space Cowboys, as well as the $3.4 million Friday expansion of the 2004 drama, Million Dollar Baby, which went on to win the Best Picture Oscar.

Though vastly different, both Million Dollar Baby and Gran Torino are cross-cultural, two-generational sagas, in which Eastwood the actor functions as surrogate father-mentor figure to a much younger character, such as Hilary Swank in the former.

Gran Torino was honored by the National Board of Review for Eastwood’s acting and Nick Schenk’s screenplay, but did not get major awards from other critics groups across the country.

Meanwhile, Eastwood’s other film, Changeling, the period drama about police corruption, which opened in October, is ending its run of three consecutive months, with a cumulative figure of over $35 million at the domestic box-office.

Early on, both pictures were considered to be Oscar contenders, but now, that the Actors and Directors Guilds have announced their nominations, it’s clear that the only possible Oscar nomination would be for Angelina Jolie, star of Changeling as Best Actress. Jolie has been nominated for the Actor Award (to be determined later this month), BFCA Award (which she didn’t win) and this weekend for a Golden Globe.