Clint Eastwood’s speech to an empty chair at the Republican National Convention might actually help the box office for his new movie “Trouble With the Curve," industry analysts say.
Warner Bros. will find out Friday, when it opens the baseball movie in more than 3,100 theaters. "Trouble With the Curve" will face some stiff competition from Jennifer Lawrence in the horror film “House at the End of the Street," the comic-book remake “Dredd” and the cop drama “End of Watch.”
Nonetheless, analysts see a debut in the $18 million range and believe it could take the top spot.
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“People who like Clint Eastwood movies, and there are still plenty of them, are going to go to the theaters,” Phil Contrino, editor-in-chief at Boxoffice.com told TheWrap. “But people who normally don’t care about Clint Eastwood movies, well, they know this one is out there now.”
"I don’t think the speech makes much of a difference for most people," Jeff Bock, senior analyst at Exhibitor Relations Co., added. "He's a star and his name carries a lot of clout, even at the end of his career."
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In an online survey conducted by ticket broker Fandango earlier this month, 61 percent of respondents said that they would be more inclined to see the film in the wake of his appearance with “the invisible Obama.” His occasionally rambling ant-Obama diatribe set off a storm of social media responses, most negative.
Most critics, though, have been OK with the film — 56 percent of the reviews on Movie Review Intelligence are positive — but nearly all of have praised Eastwood's performance.
For potential filmgoers, it probably doesn't hurt that the growling, obstinate crankiness displayed by aging baseball scout Gus in trailers and commercials for "Trouble With the Curve" doesn't seem such much of a stretch for the 82-year-old Eastwood.
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"Trouble With the Curve" skews toward older audiences, which tend not to rush out for opening weekends. But looking at the numbers for comparable recent releases – both Eastwood's and baseball movies – Warner Bros. has reason to be optimistic.
His last film was Sony’s “Gran Torino,” which rolled up $148 million in 2008 after a $29 million wide debut. Eastwood wrote, directed, starred in and even sang a song for that one. In 2004, he directed “Million Dollar Baby,” which won Best Picture and went on to make $104 million.
“Trouble With the Curve” is the first film that Eastwood has starred in that he has not directed himself in since 1993’s “In the Line of Fire,” which was directed by Wolfgang Peterson. Producer Robert Lorenz, who was first assistant director on “Million Dollar Baby” and “Mystic River,” has the helm on this one, working from a script by Randy Brown.
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Warner's has had commercials for “Trouble With the Curve” in heavy rotation on cable sports network ESPN for the past week.