‘American Sniper’ holiday total: $105.3 million

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

American Sniper, the Official Oscar Nominee of the Culture Wars.

On January 15, when the much-debated (and very good) Selma earned only two Oscar nominations, some of the movie’s boosters contrasted it with the surprising recognition of American Sniper. “Even without tallying up its rank mendacity,” wrote Alyssa Rosenberg in the Washington Post, “which makes Ava DuVernay’s creative liberties in Selma look positively picayune, American Sniper is just such an utterly mediocre movie.” The next day, American Sniper finally got its wide release.Documentarian Michael Moore has offered his thoughts on Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, writing on Facebook that he appreciated the film’s touching ending and “anti-war sentiment.” “Awesome performance from Bradley Cooper.

This piece will be dealing solely with American Sniper and its huge $89.5 million weekend, with the rest of the weekend box office news to be found HERE. The $55 million Heyday Films/Studio Canal production was supposed to debut over Christmas but was moved to avoid the deluge of Into the Woods, Annie, and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. Over the weekend, as all things Hollywood and America revolved around a discussion over “American Sniper,” Moore fired off a tweet declaring snipers “cowards.” FOX NEWS INSIDER – Retired U.S. And, not surprisingly, Clint Eastwood’s adaptation of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s autobiography set a record for the best-ever January opening, taking in $105.3 million at the box office.

Marine Corporal Jacob Schick said of his big screen debut in “American Sniper,” “I play a severely wounded Marine, so I hope I nailed it, because it’s been a little over 10 years that I’ve lived that actual life.” He said that the huge success of both the “American Sniper” book and now the film show that America is waking up as a country and is standing behind warriors and their families. To wit, that bests the previous January record (Ride Along with $41m/$48m on the same weekend last year) while becoming the second-biggest R-rated debut of all-time behind only The Matrix Reloaded ($91m). The reasons are obvious, in some regards: “By limiting the availability of Sniper for the first three weekends, [the film’s studio, Warner Bros.] built up a demand that was fully manifested by this massive outpouring,” Rentrak box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian tells CNN.

The film has already earned a stunning $122m worldwide going into the weekend, and the utterly charming and robustly entertaining family film earned 25.21m over its Fri-Mon holiday debut frame. The fact that he would say something about America’s military, snipers in particular, goes to show his abundant lack of intellectual capability that harnesses any value,” Schick said. “I don’t think [Moore] deserves the breath that I’m about to give, but I’ll just say Michael Moore wasn’t there in Afghanistan and the last time I checked, he’s never shot anybody with a scoped rifle,” Irving said. “I don’t really care what he gives me, a ‘thank you’ or not,” Irving said. “A lot of good guys and a lot of my friends died for his right to freedom of speech. Deadline.com referred to it as “a four-theater cash cow” before Friday’s wide opening. “Today I don’t know exactly what to write,” Kyle’s widow Taya wrote on Chris’s Facebook page Sunday. “I am overwhelmed with gratitude and my heart is full.

This one bested that in a day, and is nearly 2/3 of the way (around $108m as of Monday) to besting the $148m domestic total of said Eastwood picture to claim the top grosser spot of his legendary career. By the way, for all the (admittedly amusing) talk about how creepy Paddington looked when the first image was released, it should be noted that not a single kid in our packed Friday night audience was remotely frightened on the adorable little bear. Since the movie’s rollout, they’ve generally embraced American Sniper as proof that the heart of the country wants to see heroic stories about the country’s long wars.

We never expected anything and were always in a moment of stunned silence at the response from all the beautiful people in this world.” Last week, in advance of a benefit Sniper screening at the Cinemark West Plano attended by star Bradley Cooper, Midlothian resident Taya told our Dave Tarrant she was initially reluctant to have the Hangover star play her late husband. As is the case with “dead eyes” performance capture, I am again amused by how much effort adults put into being frightened or creeped out by something that was intended for children and doesn’t remotely frighten said target audience. But that quickly changed: In the end, it was something as small as a sniff, a subtle facial tic, that actor Bradley Cooper does as he peers through the scope of his weapon.

The dynamite first teaser ranks among the best such spots from last year, and Warner Bros. knew it didn’t have to do much more that drop that harrowing tease. The Warner Bros./Time Warner Inc. release even made it seem like even more of an event via asking IMAX to do a lightning-quick conversion for this weekend’s wide release. Then there was a series of tweets from documentary filmmaker Michael Moore (including this one about how “Snipers aren’t heroes”) that spawned this story about how he “does not like” American Sniper that spawned this Facebook post in which the director of Roger & Me and Fahrenheit 9/11 says, well, “I didn’t say a word about American Sniper in my tweets.” He goes on: Oh… and too bad Clint gets Vietnam and Iraq confused in his storytelling. This was an interesting test case of sorts for Kevin Hart, as the somewhat generic looking comedy (sold as Hitch meets I Love You, Man meets The Hangover) was Hart’s first vehicle to surround him with mostly white cast members (none of whom are box office draws).

Chirs (sic, again) Kyle was a Navy SEAL and he served on SEAL Team Three, which is the team her son Marc Alan Lee was deployed with when he was killed in Ramadi, Iraq on August 2nd, 2006. The film felt like an oddly lower profile release in the media, and I suppose it was drowned out by all the Oscar talk and Michael Mann think pieces/retrospectives. Sony’s marketing was mostly based on a deluge of preview screenings and various would-be “viral” events (such as Hart and Josh Gad crashing weddings). And there’s a touching ending as the main character is remembered after being gunned down by a fellow American vet with PTSD who was given a gun at a gun range back home in Texas — and then used it to kill the man who called himself the America Sniper. The debut came in below the $48m Fri-Mon debut of Ride Along (duh), the $29m Fri-Sun debut of Think Like A Man Too, and the $25m Fri-Sun debut of About Last Night.

The data points include journalist Max Blumenthal’s mockery of the movie (“The whole film’s appeal seems to derive from the latent racism that led America into Iraq”), Michael Moore’s subtweet that “snipers aren’t heroes,” and December’s free speech hero Seth Rogen’s comment that “American Sniper kind of reminds me of the movie that’s showing in the third act of Inglorious Basterds.” (That would be Nation’s Pride, a fictional slice of propaganda about a Nazi sniper who holds a tower against an American assault.) As the weekend ended, the backlash could be more generally applied to “Hollywood.” In a story for the Wrap, which was shared more than 35,000 times on Facebook by Monday morning, reporter Steve Pond quoted anonymous members of the Oscar voting pool who wondered if Kyle had been a “sociopath” and the movie was dangerous. “Multiple Academy members told the Wrap that they had been passing around a recent article by Dennis Jett in the New Republic that attacks the film for making a hero out of Kyle,” wrote Pond. If you count it as an action film, and for the record I do, it’s one of the biggest debuts ever for a “real world” non-comic book/sci-fi/fantasy action picture, behind just Fast & Furious 6 ($97.3m) and ahead of the likes of Skyfall ($88.3m), and Fast Five ($86.1m). Okay, if you want to count the mostly “real world” Indiana Jones pictures (they tend to go religious/fantasy right at the very end), then you add in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull with its $100m Fri-Sun debut. I have to wonder if some of Hart’s fans were turned off by the whole “stick Hart with any white person regardless of star power so he can cross-over” pitch, as there it is a little patrionizing to think that a box office draw like Hart needs non-movie stars (who happen to be white) like Gad and Kaley Cuoco to “break out.” I imagine that Get Hard, which co-stars an actual comedy movie star (Will Ferrell) will do a bit better than March. It took him until paragraph five to admit that he had not seen the movie and was basing his review on the trailer and Kyle’s book, which revealed that “his only regret is that he didn’t kill more.” Jett’s slapdash article became instantly notorious on the right, and overshadowed similar pieces that argued–in vain–for moviegoers not to embrace the movie.

The film’s D.C. premiere was attended by Vice President Joe Biden, who often ends speeches with “God bless our troops.” In an interview with Asawin Suebsaeng, Bradley Cooper rejected any political read on the movie, or even the idea that it made a normative argument about entering Iraq in 2003. With action junkies flocking to American Sniper and/or Taken 3, the Chris Hemsworth cyber-thriller earned just $4.4 million on its first Friday-Monday weekend. If last week’s debate was whether the Academy was too white to reward Selma, this week’s is whether liberal Hollywood will reject a war movie that most Americans actually want to see. It played 59% male, 74% over-30, 82% over 25-years old, 49% Caucasian, 20% Hispanic, 18% Asian, 10% African American and 3% “other.” The potential good news is that much of the film takes place in Hong Kong and features Chinese actors like Wei Tang and Leeholm Tang in starring roles alongside Chris Hemsworth.

As I discussed last January when Lone Survivor debuted with $37.8 million, films that unequivocally play to and/or are about people living in so-called flyover country yet are actually released wide enough to be seen by said moviegoers are akin to event movies. And since it’s basically a 2.25-hour R-rated action picture directed by Clint Eastwood, it attracted huge chunks of moviegoers that didn’t care about the politics or the the demographics. This was indeed the kind of performance that resembled The Passion of the Christ, in that it brought out not just the politically-inclined and those connected to the military, but also the kind of audiences that don’t necessarily flock to the movies yet came out (and will come out) for this one.

The low-key film was never going to be a domestic blockbuster, but it may end up, when adjusted for inflation, being Michael Mann’s lowest-grossing film ever. Mr. “We shouldn’t have been over there in the first place!” liberal film critic may have issues with the film’s politics, tin-eared dialogue, and its massaging a true-life biopic into generic action movie cliches (it’s less jingoistic than Lone Survivor, although frankly less interesting than the intriguingly procedural Act of Valor), but it arguably wasn’t made for me.

It also means more multiplex films that espouse a political or social viewpoint that I might not necessarily agree with and/or play to demographics that aren’t necessarily in my wheelhouse. It’s not that they can open The Dark Knight Rises to $160 million, it’s that they can open Magic Mike to $39m, The Great Gatsby to $50m, Gravity to $55m, and now American Sniper to a $90m four-day debut weekend.

I hope they don’t get too bogged down in DC Comics movies, because their ability to distribute and market movies like this to numbers anywhere resembling this, not their ability to make another Batman movie, is what makes them valuable to the industry. Still, amusingly, its second weekend came in well under the $20m second weekend of the first Taken which dropped just 16% in weekend two after a $24m debut. The film spent the week before its wide debut embroiled in a ridiculous controversy about its accuracy (because American Sniper, Imitation Game, Foxcatcher, and Theory of Everything was 100% non-fiction) and it spent this week dealing with the fall-out of its Oscar snubbing (it made it into the expanded Best Picture line-up and was nominated for Best Song, but that’s it). Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken was basically shut-out in the Oscar race, save for Roger Deakins’s cinematography and the sound categories, and it took a hit accordingly. Wild should earn $1.5m over the holiday and bring its cume to $33m while Whiplash returned to 189 theaters and will earn around $425k for a $6.7m cume.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies earned $6.01m for a $245.68m domestic cume while crossing $800 million worldwide while Inherent Vice earned $1.1m for a new $6.476m cume.

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