‘American Sniper’ Shatters Box Office Records

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

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

The Weinstein Company’s Paddington opened in America after nearly a month of successful overseas play. NEW YORK (AP) — 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.The war biopic, directed by Clint Eastwood, stars Bradley Cooper as Navy Seal Chris Kyle, who was credited with most confirmed kills in American military history. 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. Based on Chris’s autobiography, the film has received six Oscar nominations including best picture, best actor for Bradley and best adapted screenplay.

Michael won an Oscar in 2002 for his documentary Bowling For Columbine, which explores gun violence in America and the main reasons for the Columbine High School massacre. The 60-year-old director’s other documentary films include Fahrenheit 9/11 about President George W Bush’s involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Capitalism: A Love Story about corporate greed and the global economic meltdown of the late 2000s, and Sicko, focusing on the American health system.

And it, in one weekend, gives the Oscar best-picture race something it was lacking: a big box-office hit. “American Sniper” is nominated for six Academy Awards. 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. 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. 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).

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). 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. 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. 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.

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. 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. 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). The Benedict Cumberbatch espionage thriller earned its expected Oscar nomination haul on Thursday and is still playing like the big crowdpleaser of the crowd, save of course for American Sniper which passed it over the weekend in a matter of moments.

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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