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True Grit Movie Box Office: Rare Western Hit & One of Jeff Bridges’ Biggest Successes

True Grit movie Jeff BridgesTrue Grit movie with Jeff Bridges, who also stars in another late-year release, TRON: Legacy: The four-decade Hollywood veteran can be presently seen in what are fast becoming his two biggest box office performers since the 1976 King Kong remake.
  • True Grit movie box office: Starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and feature film newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, Joel and Ethan Coen’s acclaimed Western has turned out to be a surprisingly successful late-year release in the domestic market.

True Grit movie box office: Starring veteran Jeff Bridges in the old John Wayne role, Joel and Ethan Coen’s latest effort is a rare Western hit

Dec. 24–26 (Christmas) weekend box office (cont.): Trailing Universal’s critically lambasted Little Fockers this past Christmas weekend, Paramount Pictures’ True Grit – directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, and starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and Hailee Steinfeld – grossed $24.8 million from 3,047 North American (U.S. and Canada only) theaters as per final studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com. Cume since its Wed., Dec. 22, debut: $36 million.

Based on Charles Portis’ 1968 Western novel about a late-19th-century teenage farm girl who hires an alcoholic lawman to find her father’s murderer, True Grit – previously filmed by Henry Hathaway in 1969, with John Wayne in his Oscar-winning role – has received enthusiastic reviews, currently enjoying a 94 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes’ “top critics.”

Moreover, SAG Award nods for Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld, and numerous mentions in critics’ awards-season lists have helped to propel this Western – in the last four decades, hardly the most box-office-friendly of genres – into the blockbuster-in-the-making realm.

True Grit reportedly cost $38 million (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses). And that means the Western nearly had its production budget matched at the domestic box office after only five days in theaters.

Jeff Bridges with two movies among the Top Five

Besides True Grit, Jeff Bridges has another movie among this past weekend’s Top Five: Joseph Kosinski’s sci-fi adventure TRON: Legacy, no. 3 on the chart with $19.2 million (down 57 percent from a week ago). Curiously, these two titles happen to be anomalies in the big-screen career of the four-decade Hollywood veteran.

A leading man since the early 1970s, Bridges has had relatively few major commercial hits, most of which owed their success to costars like Barbra Streisand (The Mirror Has Two Faces), Robin Williams (The Fisher King), Clint Eastwood (Thunderbolt and Lightfoot), and King Kong (John Guillermin’s 1976 remake; like The Fisher King, actually a commercial disappointment in relation to its cost).*

And here’s a comparison to another recent Jeff Bridges movie: In its first five days, True Grit earned almost as much money in the U.S. and Canada as Scott Cooper’s 2009 country music drama Crazy Heart, which, buoyed by Bridges’ various Best Actor wins (including the 2010 Oscar), ended its run with $39.5 million.

* Neither Seabiscuit nor the global blockbuster Iron Man could be considered “a Jeff Bridges movie.” The former starred Tobey Maguire and a horse; the latter starred Robert Downey Jr. and a metal suit.

True Grit 2010 Matt DamonTrue Grit 2010 with Matt Damon: First box office success since The Bourne Ultimatum.

Matt Damon has his first post-Bourne hit

True Grit has also provided a box office kick to the career of another one of its stars, Matt Damon.

The Western is Damon’s first hit since Paul Greengrass’ 2007 blockbuster The Bourne Ultimatum, which was followed by a string of commercial underperformers: Steven Soderbergh’s The Informant! (domestic cume: $33.3 million), Clint Eastwood’s Invictus ($37.5 million) and Hereafter ($32.7 million), and Greengrass’ Green Zone ($35 million).

In addition to Oscar winners Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon (for cowriting Good Will Hunting, 1997), and feature film newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, the True Grit movie cast includes Oscar nominee Josh Brolin (Milk, 2008) as the outlaw who killed Steinfeld’s father, Barry Pepper, Domhnall Gleeson, and the voice of J.K. Simmons.

True Grit in the black in less than 2 weeks?

Jan. 4 update: True Grit has already become the Coen brothers’ biggest hit ever in the U.S. and Canada. After 12 days, it has raked in $86.7 million; that’s nearly $1 million more than the adjusted-for-inflation (approx.) $86 million earned by their 2007 Best Picture Oscar winner No Country for Old Men (actual domestic cume: $74.3 million).

Another bit of good news: In case its reported budget is accurate, True Grit is already “in the black” – that is, as along as one ignores Paramount’s marketing and distribution expenses.

Domestic blockbuster less impressive abroad

Update II: Joel and Ethan Coen’s True Grit ultimately collected $171.2 million domestically and a far-less-noteworthy – as expected for a Western – $81 million internationally. Worldwide total: A hugely profitable $252.2 million.

Its top international markets were the United Kingdom/Ireland ($13.5 million), France ($11.5 million), Australia ($8.5 million), Germany ($8 million), and Spain ($7.1 million).

The original True Grit earned Paramount $14.3 million in domestic rentals (the studio’s share), meaning its gross take was likely around $27–$30 million (approx. $160 million in 2010). Besides John Wayne, the cast included Glen Campbell, Kim Darby, Jeremy Slate, Robert Duvall, and Dennis Hopper.


True Grit Movie Box Office” endnotes

At no. 8 on the Christmas box office chart, Rob Letterman’s costly fantasy adventure Gulliver’s Travels has turned out to be both a critical and a commercial bomb in the domestic market. Jack Black stars as the titular character.

Unless otherwise noted, “True Grit Movie Box Office: Rare Western Hit & One of Jeff Bridges’ Biggest Successes” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline.com, etc.).

Comments about True Grit and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).

Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).

Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.

Lastly, although a more accurate reflection of a film’s popularity (i.e., its number of tickets sold), inflation-adjusted estimates should be taken with extreme caution. For instance, they’re based on average domestic ticket prices (via the National Association of Theater Owners, unless otherwise noted) whereas numerous major releases scored a large chunk of their box office take at top-priced venues.

Matt Damon and Jeff Bridges True Grit movie images: Wilson Webb | Paramount Pictures.

True Grit Movie Box Office: Rare Western Hit & One of Jeff Bridges’ Biggest Successes” last updated in November 2022.

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1 comment

thisnthat42 -

Bridges makes John Wayne’s performance in the 1969 version seem like last week’s mashed potatoes.

Reply

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