your box office explained

True Grit Guns Down Fockers, Season of the Witch

This Weekend’s Winners: The Coen brothers’ True Grit ($15 million); Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling’s marital drama, Blue Valentine ($718,000 from just 40 theaters)

This Weekend’s Losers: Gwyneth Paltrow’s Country Strong ($7.3 million); Nicolas Cage’s Season of the Witch ($10.7 million)

How It All Went Down: With apologies to Erasmus, in the land of the maligned, the one-eyed man is king: January is often a burial ground for critically panned films, and in such a disreputable climate, the Oscar-bait True Grit had little difficultly ruling the roost. The Coen’s biggest movie to date has now become one of the best-performing horse operas of recent memory, surpassing the grosses of Westerns revisionist (Unforgiven), revolutionary (Brokeback Mountain), and recycled (Maverick) by corralling $110 million-plus in domestic receipts.

If Grit’s task was made considerably easier by the dreck with which it was competing, it was made a bit harder by the fact that fewer folks are venturing out to the multiplex now than at the same time last year. Overall, box office is down by a bit less than a third. (And don’t blame James Cameron. Anthony D’Allesandro sagely notes over at IndieWire, “Last year at this time, four other films behind Avatar made $11 million-plus [at the box office].”)

Cage, of course, comes in flavors like 3-D (Summit’s Drive Angry, out next month) and extra-crispy (Sony’s sequel to Ghost Rider, out next year), but this past weekend, he rocked the original recipe: bad wig, worse script. (Still, some guys can’t resist a turkey sandwich, and in the case of Season of the Witch, particularly Latino guys: 36 percent of its audience was Hispanic, according to exit-polling data.)

Finally, it may be too early to tell if Gwynie’s efforts to reinvent herself as a Country Western crooner have failed, but she seems to have selected a film that had limited demographic appeal even among red states: Country Strong’s audience was just shy of three-quarters womenfolk (73 percent), of which a little less than half (49 percent) were under 30.

Your top ten:

1. True Grit: $15 million ($110.4 million)
2. Little Fockers: $13.8 million ($123.9 million)
3. Season of the Witch: $10.7 million ($10.7 million)
4. Tron: Legacy: $9.8 million ($147.9 million)
5. Black Swan: $8.35 million ($61.5 million)
6. Country Strong: $7.3 million ($7.4 million)
7. The Fighter: $7 million ($57.8 million)
8. The King’s Speech: $6.81 million ($33.3 million)
9. Yogi Bear: $6.8 million ($75.6 million)
10. Tangled: $5.2 million ($175.9 million)

True Grit Guns Down Fockers, Season of the Witch