‘American Sniper’ shatters box office records over MLK weekend

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘American Sniper’ shatters box office records over MLK weekend.

On the heels of “American Sniper’s” record-breaking box-office weekend, the always controversial director and filmmaker Michael Moore tweeted some of his thoughts on military snipers.Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” shattered several box office records and surpassed tracking expectations over the busy four-day Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. Kyle, the subject of the hit movie “American Sniper” and credited with more kills than any soldier in American history, seemed to be the subject of a tweet Sunday from Moore saying: Moore also tweeted a link to his Facebook page where he painted himself as the victim of the media taking his words out of context.

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 was the biggest debut of Eastwood’s career, edging ahead of his 2009 film “Gran Torino,” which earned $29.48 million when it expanded in wide release. His post starts, “Lots of talk about snipers this weekend (the holiday weekend of a great man, killed by a sniper), so I thought I’d weigh in with what I was raised to believe about snipers.” Oh… and too bad Clint gets Vietnam and Iraq confused in his storytelling.

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. Last year, the Kevin Hart comedy broke the record for top-grossing film over that holiday weekend with its $48.6-million premiere. “American Sniper,” which cost Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow about $58 million to make, is adapted from the Chris Kyle autobiography of the same name. 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.

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’. It co-stars Sienna Miller. “These are the moments in your business where you don’t see these things coming — they certainly are few and far between,” said Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. head of domestic distribution. “When you get an opportunity like this you rejoice.

Most of us were taught the story of Jesse James and that the scoundrel wasn’t James (who was a criminal who killed people) but rather the sniper who shot him in the back. 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.

After Moore’s tweets began to gain traction online Moore responded to the the criticism with a Facebook post, explaining his tweet further and criticizing media outlets like Deadline Hollywood and The Hollywood Reporter for mischaracterizing what he said. “I didn’t say a word about ‘American Sniper’ in my tweets. … If they wanted to know my opinion of ‘American Sniper’ (and I have one), why not ask me? In both red and blue states, small and large cities, tiny towns — everywhere we went — it broke records.” Going into the weekend, optimistic predictions for “American Sniper” were closer to $50 million, which still would have been an enormous success, particularly considering how little appetite audiences have had for movies about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “This was maybe the most underestimated film of all time, considering that it did about twice what estimates predicted,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office firm Rentrak. “This just doesn’t happen.” But the film was warmly embraced by conservatives, which Fellman said was a “huge” factor.

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. Eastwood also scored a nomination for the Directors Guild of America award for directorial achievement in a feature film. “It played as a film of patriotism,” he said. “But it also played to an audience concerned with families and those who serve this country… Dergarabedian said “American Sniper” resonated with audiences craving a celebration of valor, courage and patriotism. “American Sniper,” once pegged for release in late 2015, was moved up to qualify for this year’s Oscars.

In essence, this movie was the first real superhero movie and it played like one.” Meanwhile, with no other family films in the mix, “Paddington,” released by Weinstein Co.’s Dimension label, ended up in second with a $25.2-million debut. It stars Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Nicole Kidman and Ben Whishaw (who voices Paddington). “One of our concerns was that Paddington is such a well known character in Europe and parts of south America but we weren’t sure how audiences would react here in North America,” said Erik Lomis, Weinstein Co.’s head of theatrical distribution. “But they clearly embraced the character and welcomed him with open arms.” The comedy follows Doug Harris (Gad), a lovable but awkward groom-to-be without a best man. 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. Hart and Gad crashed a real Indian wedding, performed a wedding ceremony live on “Good Morning America” and engaged in a dance-off in a promo that aired on “Ellen.” “Taken 3,” last week’s box-office winner, was in fourth and added about $17.4 million in the Friday-Monday period. 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.

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. Directed by Michael Mann, the action-thriller follows a furloughed convict (Chris Hemsworth) as he and others hunt a cybercrime network from Chicago to Jakarta.

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