Home Movies True Grit Will Set New Box Office High for Coen Brothers

Joel and Ethan Coen are about to set a new box office high with their remake of “True Grit.”

The Coens will shatter their previous high–$74 million for “No Country for Old Men–when “True Grit” crosses that line this weekend.

And the season for “True Grit” is still fresh. By the time the Oscars have come and gone in late February, “True Grit” will be way past $100 million. Not too bad.

It’s funny to look back at the Coens’ “classic” movies to see how little they made. The early ones–my favorites– from “Blood Simple” through “The Big Lebowski”–were not exactly money makes. Only “Raising Arizona” did well, with $22 million. Ha ha. “Barton Fink” and “Miller’s Crossing”? Forget it. And the beloved “Fargo”? Just under $25 million.

Starting in the 2000s, “O Brother Where Art Thou?” did very well. With George Clooney as its star, and a terrific soundtrack, “Brother” raked in $45 million.

But then the Coens had three missteps in a row. “The Man Who Wasn’t There” — shot in gorgeous black and white, but really an enigma of a movie–took in $7 million.

Using George Clooney in “Intolerable Cruelty” and Tom Hanks in “The Ladykillers” brought in $35 and $39 million apiece, but like “The Man Who Wasn’t There,” the films had a pedestrian feeling. “Burn After Reading” with Brad Pitt did well, but it was incomplete because Pitt had to leave the shoot early. It didn’t make sense.

“No Country” brought the Coens back, winning them a Best Picture Oscar and lots of new fans. “A Serious Man” was meant to be a side project, without stars. A great film that keeps getting better, “Serious Man” returned the brothers to their original perspective even if it earned only $10 million. It’s lovely.

Now produced Scott Rudin can be very pleased. He’s already got the $100 million hit, “The Social Network.” With “True Grit,” he’s got number 2. And the Coens have finally gotten success with a movie star, Jeff Bridges. They’ve also introduced a new young actress with lots of potential–Hailee Steinfeld. It’s a nice way to start the new year!

6 replies to this post
  1. P.S.If you haven’t seen the Coen’s remake of TRUE GRIT, don’t wait. It’s one of the best pictures of the year. Bridges is perfect and so is Damon and the young actress Hallie Steinfeld.

    And so is THE KING’S SPEECH, with Colin Firth a lock for Best Actor. Geoffrey Rush is equally fine.

    Really, don’t miss either!

  2. I disagree with your item about BURN, which came after NO COUNTRY, not before (you make it seem like the other way around).

    I also read the script early on and Pitt’s character was always meant to be killed off. What did his scheldule have to do with anything?

  3. Hugh, don’t forget about the very dark “Blood Simple” ( the first film to put the Coen brothers on the map) , “Raising Arizona” ( I miss this version of Nicolas Cage) , & “Miller’s Crossing.” Yes, they are some of the finest directors working today. They seem to create and follow their own rules , in a time when Hollywood is more shaky, unstable, & unpredictable- financially & creatively . This makes the Coen Brothers even more remarkable when they are able to pull this off .

  4. Well I went off to fact check you on this, but you are right!

    Even accounting for ticket price inflation, a truly great movie live “Millers Crossing” is clearly out paced by “Grit”.

    Maybe there is just such a lack of movies pitched at an adult IQ that the audience today is funneled into the Cohen brothers.

    I really liked True Grit, and I appreciated that someone actually thought out a plot before spraying cash all over the place to make a spectacle.

  5. I saw True grit for the second, and glad I didn’t see the first one. This one is spectacular. The audience loved it. People clapped at the end. It was like watching masterful performances by everyone, esp. the three leads. Jeff Bridges was amazing.

  6. I think the Coen brothers are today’s best directors.
    I love Fargo and Big Lebowski. They are some of my all time favourites.
    No Country was spectacular, the best ‘western’ film I have seen.

    Burn was fantastic too, very funny and interesting.
    I did find Millers quite slow, but many regard it as one of the best crime thrillers.

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