A Coens’ cash cow?

A Coens’ cash cow?

George Clooney and Tilda Swinton in Burn After Reading

Aren’t the Coen brothers’ films supposed to be critical darlings, not beloved by the masses?

That rep could be in jeopardy following this weekend’s box office haul.

The duo’s new film, “Burn After Reading,” earned nearly $20 million in its opening weekend. That made it number one at the box office, but more importantly hints the Oscar-winning brothers have outgrown the art house crowd.

Their last film, “No Country for Old Men,” brought in $74 million in its entire run, but only $9 million in its first weekend of wide release. “Country’s” Oscar chase helped goose its earnings, as did the onslaught of rave reviews.

“Burn” likely won’t be Oscar bait this winter. It’s good – but not good enough to outclass other prestige pics coming our way.

We’ll see what next weekend brings, but for now Joel and Ethan Coen can sit back and figure out what it means to have a hit on their hands.

(Photo: George Clooney and Tilda Swinton consider the impact of their affair in “Burn After Reading.” )

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