Much of the box office discussion as the year turns has been about Aquaman riding an impressive wave and Bumblebee and Mary Poppins Returns battling it out for the fishman’s scraps. But those blockbusters aren’t the only films in theaters, and another December release has been quietly plugging away and making a surprising amount of money. Clint Eastwood’s The Mule has smuggled a cool $61.1 million at the domestic box office.
The Mule opened on December 14 opposite Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Mortal Engines, and has brought in $61.1 million through its first three weekends. The film has held strong at #5 at the box office in its third weekend, outperforming the new releases Adam McKay’s Vice and the movie people are walking out of, Holmes & Watson. What’s even more impressive is that its weekend box office grew 28.1% from its second to third weekend, according to Box Office Mojo.
Older audiences are really showing up for Clint Eastwood’s latest, and when it’s all said and done, The Mule could climb to a final domestic tally of at least $90 million and possibly as much as $100 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter. That’s a nice sum for the $50 million film and that’s before factoring in its foreign run, which will begin when it opens internationally in January.
It’s an impressive performance for The Mule and may reflect a desire to see Clint Eastwood back in front of the camera. The last role Clint Eastwood had onscreen before The Mule was in Trouble with the Curve all the way back in 2012. That film ended its domestic run with $35.8 million, a number The Mule has already blown past.
However, Clint Eastwood didn’t direct that film and he was a co-lead alongside Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake. The last time he starred in a film as the lead prior to that was in Gran Torino in 2008, which made $270 million worldwide.
So one could conclude that not only is there a desire to see Clint Eastwood onscreen, but also to see him onscreen in a leading role that is the kind audiences have come to expect from the legendary actor. He may favor directing over acting these days, but the moviegoing public still clearly likes seeing the actor.
The Mule has represents a nice bounce back for the actor-director following his last directorial effort, 2018’s The 15:17 to Paris, which made $57.1 million worldwide and could be considered a bit of a disappointment after the one-two punch success of American Sniper and Sully.
The Mule is inspired by a true story and follows his character Earl Stone, a 90-year-old curmudgeon (it is Eastwood after all) horticulturist and war veteran who becomes a drug mule for the Mexican cartel. The film also stars Bradley Cooper, Taissa Farmiga, Michael Peña and Laurence Fishburne.
The Mule is now playing. For all of 2019’s biggest movies, check out our premiere guide.