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!