‘Flags’ planted firmly

Eastwood pic has grossed $27.7 million in the U.S.

Slow and steady is getting it done for Clint Eastwood once again.

Though it’s been tagged as a box office disappoint-ment in some quarters, Eastwood’s “Flags of Our Fathers,” is actually keeping pace with the helmer’s two previous pics.

In its first 20 days of release, the World War II pic has grossed $27.7 million in the U.S. — a bit more than the $25.4 million his 2003 “Mystic River” had grossed at the same point of release. That pic went on to be nominated for the best picture Oscar and cume $90.1 million.

And while his best pic-winning “Million Dollar Baby” spent six weeks in limited release before it was released wide, during its first 20 days playing in more than 2,000 theaters, the film took in $37.6 million. It ultimately cumed $100.5 million in the U.S.

The pattern some box-office gazers see in these stats is that Eastwood’s pics have a tendency to build slowly through the awards season as the public focuses on Oscar contenders.

One notable difference, however, between “Flags” and “Mystic” is that while “Flags” opened at 1,876 theaters, “Mystic” played on just 13 screens for its first six days of release, which means it was a bigger grosser than “Flags” once it hit wide release. In “Mystic’s’ first 20 days in wide release, it grossed $33 million.

Another key difference among the pics are their budgets: While “Mystic” and “Baby” both cost less than $30 million to produce, “Flags” carries a pricetag of around $80 million.

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