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Box Office: ’15:17 To Paris’ Opened Well For A Clint Eastwood Movie Without Clint Eastwood

‘The 15:17 to Paris’ image, featuring Clint Eastwood, Patrick Vo, Mathieu Lardot, Sebastien Vandenberghe, Olivier Sa, and Benjamin Ashley

The 15:17 to Paris isn’t anyone’s idea of a critical darling or a blockbuster. But the Warner Bros./Time Warner Inc. release opened to $12.55 million over the weekend despite little buzz, no star power and mostly negative reviews. As a recreation of a true-life story of heroism, with the catch being that director Clint Eastwood had the three real-life U.S. servicemen play themselves, the only selling point was the notion of Mr. Eastwood behind the camera. And in the somewhat rare sub-genre of movies directed by, but not starring Clint Eastwood, said Fri-Sun debut was actually pretty good.

Clint Eastwood has directed just 12 movies between 1990 (Bird) and 2018 (The 15:17 to Paris) which don’t star the actor (the barely released Breezy from 1973 also qualifies). And most of those films have done middling-to-okay in terms of box office. Forest Whitaker’s Bird (a “one for me” Charlie Parker biopic) earned just $2 million in 1990 while Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil earned just $25m on a $35m budget in late 1997. It wasn’t until 2003, with the Oscar-winning and much-praised Mystic River (which was something of a comeback for the filmmaker following nine years of post-Unforgiven ups-and-downs), that the filmmaker had a directorial hit ($156m worldwide on $30m budget) without his face on the poster.

Of course, it’s worth remembering that Eastwood didn’t have his first $100 million+ domestic grosser until Unforgiven. That’s as much due to inflation and being a big star in the 1970’s/1980’s as any renewed drawing power. But I digress. As Eastwood got older, he (understandably) directed a larger percentage of movies where he was a featured actor.

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