Eastwood wins box office race with "Gran Torino"

Sun Jan 11, 2009 8:52pm EST
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By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Clint Eastwood's "Gran Torino" crossed the finish line first at the weekend box office in North America on Sunday, setting a new record for the busy 78-year-old actor and director.

The suburban drama, in which Eastwood plays a grumpy old man who takes on Hmong gang members "Dirty Harry"-style, earned an estimated $29 million in the three days since it opened nationally on Friday, distributor Warner Bros. Pictures said.

Eastwood's previous best weekend was with "Space Cowboys," which earned $18 million in 2000. His most recent directing effort, "Changeling," earned $9.4 million during its first weekend of national release. "Gran Torino" has grossed $40.1 million since opening in limited release last month.

Three new movies, all playing mostly to women, entered the top 10 with better-than-expected results. "Bride Wars," starring Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson, opened at No. 2 with $21.5 million, followed by the supernatural thriller "The Unborn," at No. 3 with $21.1 million.

The faith-themed drama "Not Easily Broken," based on a book by noted preacher T.D. Jakes, debuted at No. 9 with $5.6 million. It played in just 724 theaters, while the other movies in the top 10 averaged about 2,950 theaters each.

After two weekends at No. 1, "Marley & Me" fell to No. 4 with $11.4 million. The canine saga, starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson, has earned $123.7 million to date.

Even though business in the East and Midwest was affected by bad weather, overall sales rose for the third consecutive weekend, up 14 percent to $148 million from the year-ago period, according to tracking firm Media by Numbers.


<p>Director and actor Clint Eastwood arrives at the world premiere of his new film "Gran Torino" at the Warner Bros. studio lot in Burbank, California December 9, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>