‘American Sniper’ rules weekend box office again

25 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘American Sniper’ continues box office dominance.

“American Sniper” easily secured its position atop the box office this weekend, grossing an estimated $64.4 million and crossing the $200 million mark in its second week. In non-American Sniper news, Johnny Depp and George Lucas’s respective new movies tanked on their debut weekends, while Jennifer Lopez’s low-budget thriller scored big on its opening weekend. The Bradley Cooper movie about U.S. solider Chris Kyle fell only 28% from its debut, a remarkable hold for a film that was already surpassing expectations in Hollywood. “Sniper,” nominated for six Oscars including best picture, set numerous records when it grossed $107 million over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend.

Among new releases, the Jennifer Lopez-led thriller “The Boy Next Door” placed second with $15 million in sales, while Depp’s “Mortdecai” checked in with $4.1 million. The R-rated drama about Navy SEAL Chris Kyle already set the all-time January box office score last weekend with $89.3 million in its wide release last weekend. “It’s pretty amazing.

Depp’s latest exercise in cinematic oddities, “Mortdecai,” left audiences cold, earning a paltry $4.1 million across 2,648 locations and coming in ninth on box office charts. That was below returnees “Paddington,” “The Wedding Ringer” and “Taken 3,” and another newcomer, “Strange Magic.” Eastwood’s latest film, starring Bradley Cooper, has been bolstered by the Oscars attention, including a best-picture nomination, and a Warner Bros. marketing plan that positioned “American Sniper” to appeal to both red- and blue-state crowds. In only 10 days in release, American Sniper has eclipsed the $198.5 million earned all in by Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor, and it will soon overtake the $216.5 million grossed by Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan in 1998.

It’s an embarrassing performance for a star of his caliber and comes on the heels of box office disasters such as “The Lone Ranger” and “Transcendence.” “Mortdecai” cost $60 million to make and was backed by OddLot Entertainment and released by Lionsgate. Was the price that he had to perpetually play lamer and lamer versions of the same flamboyant persona? “What are you watching?” my wife asks just now as I play the trailer above of the embarrassing new Depp movie that’s flopped. After five weekends, “American Sniper” has collected $200.1 million in North American ticket sales, an amount that Burbank, California based Warner Bros., the studio owned by Time Warner Inc. (TWX:US), shares with theater chains.

It has controversy as well which helping to propel the conversation,” says Paul Dergarabedian, senior analyst for Rentrak “It’s rare for a movie to be on the forefront of serious discussions and a popular cultural event. Taking inflation into account, Private Ryan would earned more than $300 million by today’s terms; Sniper is sure to eclipse that number when all is said and done. This shouldn’t be too surprising, as Lopez is one of the more recognizable people in the country and there hasn’t been much over the last few months that explicitly targeted women above the age of puberty, so this is a good opening act for Fifty Shades of Grey.

The $15m debut would be right in the upper-level of her wheelhouse as a lead, and it’s her biggest live-action opening since Monster-In-Law’s $23m debut in May of 2005, which remains her biggest live-action debut weekend. The R-rated film managed to turn in an impressive box office tally despite scathing reviews from critics who gave it a 13% approval rating on RottenTomatoes.com. If it plays similar to Halle Berry’s (painfully underrated) The Call from March 2013 ($6.1m opening day/$17.1m debut weekend/$51.8m domestic final), it gets to around $45m and earns ten-times its budget just in domestic theatrical. The animated film was produced by Lucasfilm, centers on goblins and elves and was inherited by the Mouse House as part of its 2012 purchase of George Lucas’ company. Moreover, it’s his third big-budget dud after Transcendence and The Lone Ranger (he does have a small role in box-office win Into the Woods, now in theaters), and is his lowest nationwide launch since The Astronaut’s Wife ($4 million) 15 years ago.

Lionsgate and OddLot Entertainment had high hopes for the movie, directed by David Koepp and starring Depp as a debonair art dealer and part-time rogue who races to recover a stolen painting rumored to contain the code to a lost bank account filled with Nazi gold. It also played 45% Hispanic, 33% Caucasian, 10% African American, 5% Asian, 7% “others.” Johnny Depp’s Mortdecai was a sadly expected box office disaster. Much of the Sunday afternoon box office quarterbacking will center on Depp’s deflating career, but “American Sniper’s” endurance was the true stunner.

Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Olivia Munn, Jeff Goldblum and Paul Bettany also star in the film adaptation of Kyril Bonfiglioli’s novel Don’t Point That Thing at Me. Depp’s film lost handily to an unlikely competitor — Jennifer Lopez, whose The Boy Next Door, a psychological thriller starring Jennifer Lopez and Ryan Guzman. As Forbes points out, before “American Sniper” just did it, only “Avatar” and “The Incredibles” have dropped less than 30% off of opening weekends of over $70 million.

He was considered box office poison before Curse of the Black Pearl and that really hasn’t changed give or take an occasional Public Enemies and The Secret Window. The Weinstein Company’s “The Imitation Game” officially became the top-grossing indie release, passing “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” It earned $7.1 million pushing its total to over $60 million.

Also opening this weekend is the George Lucas-produced Strange Magic, an animated family film that’s looking at a disappointing $5.5 million launch for a seventh-place finish. From a story by Lucas, Strange Magic is an animated romp set in a whimsical land of potions, goblins and fairies that’s loosely inspired by William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The film about a woman with chronic pain had been expected to snag star Jennifer Aniston an Oscar nomination, but was shut out by Academy Awards voters.

The movie was already in the works when Disney swooped in and bought Lucasfilm in 2012, but Strange Magic was kept on the QT until last fall, when Disney announced a Jan. 23 release. The voice cast includes Evan Rachel Wood, Alan Cumming, Kristin Chenoweth, Maya Rudolph, Sam Palladio, Meredith Anne Bull, Alfred Molina and Elijah Kelley, who sing new versions of pop and classic rock songs.

Back in the top 10, British family film Paddington remained the family offering of choice ahead of Strange Magic and placed No. 3 with $12.4 million, falling only 35 percent. The film actually came from Lucasfilm (George Lucas was among its writers and producers) and it was released under the Touchtone banner, which was not a sign of confidence. Disney could lose all of the money on this one and fund Red Tails 2 and still come way out ahead thanks to that whole Star Wars thing they have their hands on. I would argue this release is tantamount to a favor, and Lucas’s interviews where he mentioned that The Force Awakens didn’t use any of his Star Wars Episode VII ideas (which should not be news as the script underwent a major overhaul in late 2013) are basically a gift as Disney attempts to distance the new film(s) from the somewhat disliked prequel trilogy.

That’s not very strong, but 99% of the publicity for the film, in fact arguably the whole reason for the film’s existence, was about Jennifer Aniston’s would-be Oscar nomination. In holdover news, Paddington earned $2.61 million on its second Friday (-45%) and should score a solid $11m second weekend (-37%) and $39m ten-day domestic total. The $23m comedy now has $39.6756m, and its drop was noticeably less than About Last Night (-70%), Think Like A Man Too (-64%) and even the 48% drop of Ride Along last year. It’s a solid win for the comedy mogul, and I’m curious to see how pairing him with Will Farrell affects his fortunes when Get Hard opens at the end of March.

The Imitation Game earned another $7.14 million for the weekend (+13%) and end the frame with $60.64m, surpassing The Grand Budapest Hotel to be the second-highest grossing Best Picture nominee. I was a little hard on the film last weekend after it didn’t quite hold up post-Oscar nominations, but I was wrong in light of this almost miniscule drop. It will surpass the respective ninth weekend total of The King’s Speech by tomorrow, so the comparisons are still apt even if Boyhood wins the big prize. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay part I earned $1m for a $334.3m domestic total while Pantelion Films’s Spare Parts earned $900k (-33%) for a $2.7m cume. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies earned another $2.85m (-43%) to bring its domestic cume to $249.5m while Inherent Vice earned $400k (-65%) to bring its cume to $7.419m.

Fox Searchlight’s Birdman won the Best Picture prize at last night Producer’s Guild Awards and earned $1.85 million after adding 362 theaters for a total of 833 theaters. Relativity releases the Kevin Costner/Octavia Spencer inter-racial adaptation drama Black and White, Paramount offers the found-footage time travel thriller Project Almanac, and Open Roads offers the “five guys do bad things in a shared apartment” drama The Loft. In the meantime, enjoy this Rentrak top-ten chart: If you like what you’re reading, follow me on Forbes, follow @ScottMendelson on Twitter, and “like” The Ticket Booth on Facebook.

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