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What does 'True Grit's' box-office run mean for its Oscar chances?

January 3, 2011 |  3:22 pm

True grit 
In the last two weeks, "True Grit" has defied all box-office expectations. The Coen brothers' PG-13 western has grossed an astounding $86.7 million since it opened on Christmas weekend. It outranked the other new wide release, "Gulliver's Travels," its opening weekend by $18 million and in its sophomore session it lost only 1% of its value after Paramount added 36 theaters to its run.

Costing less than $40 million, the film is on track to outpace "Little Fockers" and "Tron: Legacy" in profitability and may wind up being the most successful holiday release of the season. In its very short run time, the film has already outgrossed the Coens' "No Country for Old Men," becoming the brothers' most commercially successful film of their 20-year-plus career. It's also the pair's highest-rated critical hit of their career.

What does all this mean for the film's Oscar chances? Despite the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. ignoring the movie completely (Paramount submitted it as a comedy and the foreign journalists apparently didn't get the film's humor) most year-end lists have included the Jeff Bridges-and-Matt Damon film. And now with its box-office performance being one of the few bright spots in this dreary holiday moviegoing season, "True Grit" may just get a more serious look from academy voters, beyond the best picture nod it's destined to receive.

Bridges and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld have already been recognized by the Screen Actors Guild  for their performances. But perhaps more guild love beginning Tuesday with the writers guild and producers guild noms will tilt the scale in favor of the brothers' first foray into the western.

-- Nicole Sperling

Photo: Hailee Steinfeld and Jeff Bridges in "True Grit." Credit: Lorey Sebastian/Paramount Pictures