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Clooney is `Up' with critics more than audiences

January 3, 2010 - Andy Gray
George Clooney has the charisma of a movie star. He’s a talented actor (he has an Oscar to prove it). And People magazine – and my wife – will tell you he’s one of the sexiest men alive.

So why isn’t he a bigger box office draw? “Up in the Air” is poised to become Clooney’s top-grossing movie in nearly a decade that doesn’t co-star Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, but its success is marginal compared to its acclaim.

“Up in the Air” finished sixth at the box-office, grossing $11.3 million over the weekend and $45 million overall. That’s not bad, but it’s $14 million less than the total gross for “It’s Complicated,” and Clooney probably commands a higher paycheck than “Complicated” star Meryl Streep. Even more surprising, the movie finished behind “The Blind Side,” which has been in wide release five weeks longer than “Up in the Air.’’

All three movies are courting the same adult audience, and “Up” is trailing the pack despite better reviews and better Oscar buzz.

Without the “Ocean’s” gang, Clooney seems to hit a $50-million ceiling, and many of his movies don’t make it that high (“Leatherheads,” “The Men Who Stare at Goats”). “Up in the Air” will do better than that, but Clooney’s celebrity still eclipses his drawing power.


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