Clint Eastwood and Batman: See the resemblance? They're both famed crime-fighters. They're both employed by the same studio. And they're both very popular—except among Academy voters.
On a weekend when Oscar's Best Picture candidates flooded theaters, Eastwood's Gran Torino, the hit thriller that, along with The Dark Knight, was one of Oscar's notable snubees, beat all five, adding another $16 million to its nearly $100 million haul.
Overall, Kevin James' Paul Blart: Mall Cop ($21.5 million) was No. 1 for a second weekend. Underworld: Rise of the Lycans ($20.7 million) took second.
In third place, Gran Torino outgrossed and outranked the Best Picture gang: Slumdog Millionaire ($10.6 million), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ($6 million), Frost/Nixon ($3 million), The Reader ($1.4 million) and Milk ($864,342).
Drilling down into the numbers, based on studio estimates compiled today by Exhibitor Relations:
• Slumdog enjoyed the most significant Oscar bounce of any of the Best Picture movies, with ticket sales up 80 percent from last weekend. It was the only Best Picture movie that made more money, theater for theater, than Gran Torino—as well as every other movie reporting grosses. Its overall take now stands at $55.9 million.
• Arguably, Slumdog enjoyed the only Oscar bounce. Whle Frost/Nixon's ticket sales were up 351 percent, its per-screen average ($2,750) was weak. Benjamin Button returned to the Top 10, but was only up 8 percent. Milk was up 11 percent, but still looks gassed. The Reader dropped 50 theaters, gained 10 percent in ticket sales, but remained relatively little-watched with an overall take of less than $10 million.
• Eastwood's career goes too far back to make meaningful box-office comparisons, but Gran Torino should officially become his top-grossing movie as an actor or director, besting 1993's In the Line of Fire ($102.3 million).
• Brooding on the Best Picture sidelines, The Dark Knight expanded to 350 theaters. It only grossed $1,889 off each one for $861,000, a take that moved its needle up to $531.7 million domestically.
• If Warners was vexed by The Dark Knight's Best Picture snub and Gran Torino's everything snub (it received zero nominations), its mood likely wasn't improved by Inkheart's audience snub. The debuting $60 million Brendan Fraser fantasy made only $7.7 million from 2,655 theaters.
• There are slips. There are drops.There are plunges. And then there are moments when you realize everybody who wanted to see Notorious ($5.7 million—down 72 percent) pretty much saw it last weekend.
• Considering Revolutionary Road put itself out there in 1,000-plus theaters, minus its desired Best Picture nomination, the film's $5.3 million take was respectable; its $4,979 per-screen average was better than that of six of the Top 10 films.
• Marley & Me ($3 million) departs the Top 10 after a four-weekend run. With $138.1 million overall, and with apologies to Owen Wilson and the dog, its Jennifer Aniston's biggest-grossing Jennifer Aniston movie yet.
Here's a recap of the holiday weekend's top-grossing films based on Friday-Sunday estimates from Exhibitor Relations: