Two young actresses and a horror flick were no match for Clint Eastwood.
The 78-year-old living legend makes his first onscreen appearance since 2004's Million Dollar Baby in Gran Torino, and according to studio weekend estimates the racially-infused drama is easily going to beat two new releases, Bride Wars and The Unborn, at the box office this weekend.
The slow rollout that Warner Bros. implemented with Torino has payed off in a big way. The film opened on December 12 at only six locations with an impressive haul of $271,720. Now, it's playing at 2,808 and according to estimates it has already reached the $40 million mark.
Warner Bros. used a similar approach when releasing Baby. After six weekends in limited release, the film expanded to 2,010 locations on January 28, 2005 and it was able to bring in $12.3 million, which translates to nearly $14 million when adjusted for inflation. Baby ultimately went on to win Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Hilary Swank) and Best Supporting Actor (Morgan Freeman), and its total domestic haul clocked in at $100.4 million (around $111 million when adjusted for inflation).
Based on the pace its moving at, Torino could easily pass the $100 million dollar mark. As far as Oscar nominations are concerned, the film is a dark horse contender for a Best Pic nod. Plus, Eastwood has a very strong chance at snagging a Best Actor nomination. His performance was named the Best of 2008 by the National Board of Review.
While his performance in Torino is largely seen as an acting swan song, Eastwood is not slowing down. December 2009 will see the release of a new directorial effort titled The Human Factor. Factor is set in South Africa after the fall of apartheid, and it focuses on Nelson Mandela's campaign to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Mandela will be played Morgan Freeman, and Matt Damon will star as Francois Pienaar, the captain of South Africa's 1995 World Cup-winning rugby team. Oscar bait, anyone?