By Joshua Rich
Updated December 20, 2019 at 03:48 AM EST
Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino
Credit: Anthony Michael Rivetti

Seventy-eight-year-old Clint Eastwood continues to be a big draw at the box office — in fact, he’s bigger than ever. The actor-director’s latest action-drama, Gran Torino, was No. 1 on the first competitive weekend of 2009, grossing $29 million, according to Sunday’s estimates. That’s by far the highest single-weekend total of Eastwood’s esteemed six-decade Hollywood career. The film has been a hit since it debuted in limited release a month ago; this was its first frame playing wide. Its total domestic sum now stands at $40.1 mil. And, with a CinemaScore grade of A and possible Oscar nominations down the road, Gran Torino seems fueled and ready for a long ride through theaters.

Newcomer Bride Wars was a solid No. 2, with $21.5 mil, a totally expected take that’s on par with the first-weekend figures for costar Kate Hudson’s Fool’s Gold ($21.6 mil) and You, Me & Dupree ($21.5 mil), as well as costar Anne Hathaway’s The Princess Diaries ($22.9 mil) and The Princess Diaries 2 ($23 mil). Being the only film of its genre at the multiplex these days, and with an A- CinemaScore review from audiences, Bride Wars should also be hanging around for some time.

Fellow freshman flick The Unborn, meanwhile, scared up a sweet sum of it’s own: $21.1 mil, which landed it at No. 3. (In fact, the horror film could switch rankings with Bride Wars when the weekend’s final tallies are released on Monday.) Despite a B- CinemaScore mark, the movie certainly exceeded expectations.

Marley & Me (No. 4 with $11.4 mil) and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (No. 5 with $9.5 mil) rounded out the top five. And the weekend’s other wide release, Not Easily Broken, easily found itself at No. 9, grossing an impressive $5.6 mil in just 724 venues.

Overall, the cumulative box office haul was up a hefty 14 percent from the same frame a year ago (when The Bucket List was the big winner), making this the third “up” weekend in a row. A nice way to start 2009, indeed.

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