Warners uses familiar rollout for ‘J. Edgar’

Studio expands Eastwood pic quickly, like 'Mystic River'

When it comes to opening Clint Eastwood films, Warner Bros. is sticking with its “Mystic River” gameplan for Eastwood’s latest, “J. Edgar.”

The biopic, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, launched midweek at seven locations, just two days before expanding to 1,910 engagements for a six-day opening tally of $11.3 million. Pic has cumed $14.1 million as of Nov. 16. Using the same strategy, “Mystic River” opened to slightly less ($10.4 million), but closed with a leggy $90 million.

Observers question whether “J. Edgar” can reach similar heights — perhaps a more likely correlative is Eastwood’s 2010 “Hereafter,” which grossed $32.7 million. But that film played limited for an entire week before expanding wide in its second sesh. Both “Hereafter” and “J. Edgar” received mostly lukewarm reaction from critics.

“J. Edgar” carries a relatively inexpensive price tag of $35 million. That’s less than “Hereafter,” which cost a reported $50 million, but slightly more than “Mystic River” at $25 million.

Some of Warners’ notable exceptions to its Eastwood distribution formula are 2009’s “Invictus,” with a budget of $60 million, which bowed at more than 2,000 locations, as well as “Flags of Our Fathers” (a $95 million budget and 1,876 locations). “Invictus” ultimately grossed $37.5 million; “Flags” tallied $33.6 million in 2006.

Warners added a few locations for “J. Edgar” in its second weekend, up to 1,947.

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