Between True Grit's smash success and Country Strong's steady progress, this is flyover country's world, we're just living in it. Elsewhere, Nicolas Cage scares up some foreign money (and witches) and the Fockers keep on focking.
1) True Grit — $15M
Boy, howdy. This movie has now grossed an impressive $110 million, making it the fifth-highest grossing Western of all time. The only ones ahead of it at this point are Dances With Wolves, City Slickers, Blazing Saddles, and Wild Wild West. Oof. The long, illustrious history of Westerns in cinema and those are your top four? I mean, Dances With Wolves is fine, whatever, I know, ha ha, Kevin Costner's silly, but it's not a bad movie. City Slickers is cute and all, but no movie starring Daniel Stern should be the third-highest grossing Western of all time. Third-highest grossing Chicago suburbs holiday caper comedy? Absolutely. (Should be first-highest, honestly.) But not Western. Blazing Saddles is brilliant, but it's sort of mocking the genre, so that it's number two is kind of sad for the genre. But saddest of all is that Wild Wild West, the movie in which this is Kenneth Brannagh, is the all-time most lucrative Western, in the history of movies! Move over, Shane. Go piss in a pot, Peckinpah. Heck, suck a dick even, Eastwood. This is Wild Wild West's town, and y'all varmints better understand that right quick. Yeah, it's a depressing little town for sure, but it's all Wild Wild West has got.
2) Little Fockers — $13.7M
Ugh. I am so sick and bored of talking about this stupid movie. It's doing fine. It's not doing great. Blah blah. You know what I wonder about? What do these movies mean for Teri Polo? I mean, she's in these three high-grossing movies, is a big-ish part in them, and then otherwise... Well, in 2009 she was in a movie called The Hole. So. She's not doing much in the off-season, let's say. She did do a pretty racy Playboy spread back in 2005, when she was on The West Wing. See, I would have spaced those two things out. Do the Playboy during some lean years. But that's just me, not ol' Have-It-All Polo.
3) Season of the Witch — $10.7M
OK, OK. Not too bad. It's a low-ish debut for Nic Cage, but the movie only cost $40 million to make, so there's a quarter of the budget right there. Plus, as noted in that EW.com article I linked to above, "distributor Relativity Media covered at least 75 percent of the movie's budget via foreign pre-sales and tax credits." Haha, wait, really? That sounds a little mysterious, doesn't it? Of course Nicolas Cage, who owns $65 million German castles, would have shadowy foreign money deals for his weird rock-gothic movie for weirdos Season of the Witch. "Yeah, it was great. All we had to do to get the tax breaks was answer this crone's riddles three and give a vial of blood each to a goblin named Jilkospjumen." That's just how Nicolas Cage movies get made these days.
5) Black Swan — $8.3M
This $15 million indie has chugged along to a sum of $61 million, meaning it's a big time indie hit! The biggest by a mile for Darren Aronofsky. So right now at the movies, the Coen Brothers and Darren Aronofsky have their two biggest hits of all time, meanwhile The King's Speech (No. 8, $6.8M) is doing mighty fine as well. Good for us, America! We're seeing good movies. I suppose this typically happens this time of year, but still it's nice. Things got so overshadowed last year by the blue Avatar monsters and their screech-dragons, it was easy to forget that there was prestige cinema being enjoyed by the masses. But there was, and there always will be. We're not that bad, America. We're not that bad by half.
6) Country Strong — $7.3M
We're not that good either. This documentary about Gwyneth Paltrow's ill-fated bid for a country music career back in 2003 or so opened wide on Friday and did pretty decently. Had a higher per-screen average than True Grit, for example. So as its theater count grows and grows, maybe it will become a country cult hit. Which is good, because G. Pals needs a hit. Well, one that isn't Iron Man. I mean, it's a little funny that a Spence-educated, London triple-house dwelling, backyard pizza oven-having glimmer of fuzz and light like Gwyneth Paltrow could become a country music movie star, embraced by elite-hatin' country folk, but I guess that's just America for ya. If Tim McGraw says it's OK, then hogs on a handcart, it's OK. Based on the recent Tennessee-twinged success of Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side and Gwyneth in this, look for other actresses to flock to countrified, down-home roles. Lord, how about Scarlett Johansson in a remake of Coal Miner's Daughter? Or NY Giants royalty Kate Mara telling the Dolly Parton story? America is ready. Are you?