‘American Sniper’ astounds with $105.3M over MLK weekend

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘American Sniper’ movie sparks hateful reaction toward Arabs on Twitter.

NEW YORK — Clint Eastwood’s R-rated Iraq War drama “American Sniper” opened in January like a superhero movie in July, taking in a record $105.3 million over the Martin Luther King Jr. four-day weekend.Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” ignited the holiday weekend box office, leaving January records behind as it made a stunning $90.2 million in three days.

The new film “American Sniper” has been slammed by critics as pro-war propaganda, but as far as some hateful Twitter users go, the movie is right on target. In just four days, it has gone from the Best Picture nominee with the lowest box office total to the biggest earner in the list of eight. (It had been in limited release in New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas since Christmas Day. It’s not simply a look at the experiences of Chris Kyle, the Navy SEAL considered the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history, he said in a recent phone call.

It’s blockbuster numbers in January, the sort of numbers usually reserved for summer films and superhero movies,” says Paul Dergarabedian, senior analyst for Rentrak. “No one saw this coming. It’s an attempt to describe war “in a way that it hadn’t been portrayed before.” Hall began the project in 2010 before the marksman’s memoir was published, basing his early script on Kyle’s early drafts of the book and many interviews.

The resounding wide-release opening is also tops for the 84-year-old Eastwood, whose previous best weekend was the $29.5 million wide release of 2009’s “Gran Torino. The film has been building an audience and blasting any projections all weekend.” The $105 million tally is more than double what analysts were expecting,Dergarabedian says. Another Twitter user wrote: “Nice to see a movie where the Arabs are portrayed for who they really are — vermin scum intent on destroying us. #Deblasio #AmericanSniper.” “American Sniper” was the No. 1 film at the box office this weekend, but some say it went too far with its patriotic message. And it, in one weekend, gives the Oscar best-picture race something it was lacking: a big ol’ box-office hit. “American Sniper, nominated for six Academy Awards, immediately becomes the top grosser of the best-picture nominees.

It marks director Eastwood’s biggest debut, surpassing “Gran Torino,” which earned $29.5 million in 2008. “American Sniper” topped that with Friday’s $30.5 million opening. Actor Seth Rogen compared the movie to Nazi propaganda, tweeting that the film “kind of reminds me of the movie that’s showing in the third act of Inglourious Basterds.” Some people tried to be the voice of reason, with one user tweeting: “American Sniper shouldn’t make you want to kill arabs, it supposed to depict the tolls and hardships and ugly things war does to people.” It’s a tribute to the growing star power of Bradley Cooper, the terrific marketing department at Warner Bros. (which came up with a crackerjack trailer), and the fact that adult moviegoers will still turn out if they feel they have something to see. (See also: the impressive run of Gone Girl.) But it’s also a tribute to the eternal star power of Clint Eastwood, who isn’t even in the film but is one of a handful of directors whose name carries enough weight to get moviegoers to check out his films. That slow release pattern helped stoke demand for the film, in which Bradley Cooper stars as Navy SEAL marksman Chris Kyle. “It’s become a cultural phenomenon,” said Dan Fellman, head of domestic distribution for Warner Bros. “The movie reached an audience that’s very hard to tap into. Then in 2013 Kyle was killed by a troubled former Marine he was trying to help at a gun range. “I turned in the script and the next day he was murdered,” Hall said.

American Sniper is the best opening for a movie directed by or starring Eastwood, and if it has typical box office performance, it should get to $250 million. The film, based on the beloved bear star of the children’s books, scored well with critics (98% approval on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences (87%) alike. After Eastwood’s other 2014 release, “Jersey Boys,” struggled in its June release, totaling $47 million, “American Sniper” — a $58 million co-production between Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow — was tossed into this year’s Christmas mix.

His new script revealed who Kyle was before the war, his emotional sacrifice in battle and what he lost. “The difficulty he had transitioning back and forth from civilian life [to the war zone] was profound, something I hadn’t seen in other films. I realised early on that whatever problems we had with this war, whatever decision we made about it, they [the soldiers] had made a much harder decision. As Forbes’s Scott Mendelson first pointed out, it’s Every Which Way But Loose, the buddy comedy in which Eastwood plays a trucker who hangs out with an orangutan. Appropriately, director Ava DuVernay’s “Selma” rounded out the top five films with $8.3 million for the three-day weekend, and an estimated $10.3 million for the full MLK holiday.

One chapter that was not brought to screen concerned former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, who sued Kyle’s estate for defamation after Kyle’s book said he beat a man (later identified as Ventura) for insulting SEALs. Eastwood’s second biggest hit when adjusted for inflation is actually Any Which Way You Can, that film’s 1980 sequel, which made nearly $71 million then.

In a court settlement Ventura was awarded $US1.8 million. “In the book you come away with the sense that [Kyle was] this jaded character who’s a true patriot but also had a real chip on his shoulder. The film landed two Oscar nominations on Thursday, including best picture, but the snubbing of its star, David Oyelowo, and director, Ava DuVernay, drew widespread outrage.

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