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Clint Eastwood 'Trouble with the Curve': Box Office Dud

Clint Eastwood Trouble with the CurveClint Eastwood Trouble with the Curve box office: Disappointing debut

Trouble with the Curve, The House at the End of the Street, End of Watch, and Dredd: four new releases, four box office disappointments as the end of summer / early fall blues at the North American box office continue unabated. (More details in my follow-up post.) Particularly disappointing was the box office reception of the Robert Lorenz-directed Clint Eastwood / Amy Adams / Justin Timberlake baseball flick Trouble with the Curve, which opened at no. 3 on Friday with an anemic $4.16 million at 3,212 locations according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. (Image: Clint Eastwood Trouble with the Curve.)

Early predictions had the 82-year-old Clint Eastwood's latest and possibly last starring vehicle grossing around $18-20 million by Sunday evening. With a whole lot of luck, Trouble with the Curve will reach $15 million, though $12-13 million – i.e., at most a mediocre $4,300 or so per venue – seems much more likely at this stage.

If so, that'll place Trouble with the Curve on a similar level to that of other major Clint Eastwood domestic box office underperformers in the last three decades, among them Blood Work (cume: $26.23m; adjusted $36.2 million), True Crime (cume: $16.64m; adjusted $26.2 million), A Perfect World (cume: $31.13m; adjusted $60.2 million), The Rookie (cume: $21.63m; adjusted $41 million), and Pink Cadillac (cume: $12.14m; adjusted $24.5m) – though still several notches above the disastrous Honkytonk Man (cume: $4.48m; adjusted $12.2 million)

Trouble with the Curve affected by Clint Eastwood's RNC anti-Obama speech?

So, does that mean Clint Eastwood's embarrassing Empty Chair Chat at the Republican National Convention has hurt Trouble with the Curve's box office performance? Though Eastwood likely lost a number of admirers following his much ridiculed RNC appearance, it's impossible to know for a fact how – or even if – Eastwood's rambling conversation with an invisible Barack Obama affected his latest film, which has a so-so 60 percent approval rating and a 6.0/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics. [See also: “What Clint Eastwood Will NOT Say at the RNC.”]

For comparison's sake: Gran Torino, whose poster featured Clint Eastwood holding a rifle bigger than Alaska, boasted a 72 percent approval rating and 6.7/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics, and grossed an excellent $29.48 million at 2,808 locations ($10,500 per site) in January 2009 – after four weeks doing sensational business in limited release. Gran Torino went on to earn $148.09 million in North America and $121.86 million overseas for a worldwide grand total of $269.95 million. Trouble with the Curve will almost surely earn less on its opening weekend than Gran Torino earned on its seventh weekend out ($16.24 million, not adjusted for inflation).

Here's another comparison: After six weekends in limited release, the previous Clint Eastwood movie (as an actor), Million Dollar Baby, took in $12.26 million at 2,010 locations. Adjusted for inflation, that's about $15.5 million today. Chiefly thanks to Oscar buzz (and an eventual Best Picture Oscar win), Million Dollar Baby went on to collect $100.49 million in North America and $116.27 million overseas for a worldwide total of $216.76 million (or around $265 million today).

Baseball movies box office: Trouble with the Curve vs. Moneyball

Trouble with the Curve will be lucky if it passes $40 million domestic and/or if it manages to gross as much overseas, where baseball movies are about as popular as Westerns. Last year's much better-received and eventual Oscar contender Moneyball, for one, starring none other than global superstar Brad Pitt – a much bigger box office draw internationally than Clint Eastwood ever was – collected a meager $34.6 million abroad. Domestic grosses weren't exactly stellar, either: $75.6 million, after Moneyball opened with $19.5 million in late September 2011.

Distributed by Warner Bros., Trouble with the Curve marks the first time Clint Eastwood has not directed himself since Wolfgang Petersen's In the Line of Fire in 1993. Robert Lorenz has been an Eastwood collaborator since The Bridges of Madison County (1995), and has either produced or executive-produced all of Eastwood's recent films.

Clint Eastwood Trouble with the Curve picture: Warner Bros.

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