Clint Eastwood made a career landmark this weekend. Gran Torino was not only his biggest opener as both an actor or a director (unless you factor in the inflation, then Box Office Mojo says its Every Which Way But Loose), but he actually attracted the biggest female audience he's ever had. According to Warner Bros distribution president, Dan Fellman, 52% of the audience was female -- an audience Eastwood has never attracted in great numbers, and something especially surprising in a weekend they had Bride Wars to escape to. (Not that Bride Wars did badly with female audiences, it drew in $21.5 million of the under 25 crowd.)

It's actually something I noticed when I saw the film a few weeks ago. Half the audience was female, and weirdly reflected my group's ratio, which was 3:1. It's an interesting phenomenon, especially considering last week's assertion that women don't fantasize about hunting down bad guys, and aren't supposed to be drawn to the action films and antiheroes Eastwood built his career on. They're supposed to go see Bride Wars , especially when offered a frothy girl comedy over something gritty and gun-heavy (not that Gran Torino is an action flick, but you wouldn't know it from the poster or the trailer), they're supposed to choose the girly, pink colored movie. So, why did they choose Gran Torino? Were they dragged on dates, accompanying husbands and boyfriends? Was it because they all carried a flame for Eastwood, who was ridiculously hot in his youth?





Fellman's theory is that Clint and his audience are "getting younger." To be honest, I have noticed a startling rise of Eastwood love among women my age. Maybe aliens simultaneously beamed Coogan's Bluff into our heads, maybe it's his sudden fondness for female heroines (whatever you think of Million Dollar Baby or Changeling, they did feature tough chicks), or maybe we just grew up to appreciate the fact that his films weren't just empty machismo. Any of those factors could account for some of that new percentage -- but 52% of it?

Could it actually be because women, like men, actually favor films of substance, action -- films with the promise of bad guy ass-kicking? Maybe they're becoming more vocal and proactive in their love of such films, more choosy about their ticket-purchasing? Nahhh.