‘American Sniper’ smashes records with $90M weekend

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘American Sniper’ smashes box office records.

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.It is now on pace to decimate records for the Martin Luther King holiday and for the month of January, pulling in roughly $105 million over the four-day period. It’s also a new high-water mark for director Clint Eastwood, whose previous weekend record was the $29.5 million wide-release opening for 2008’s “Gran Torino.” At 84, he’s still got it. “The movie has become a cultural phenomenon,” said Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. head of domestic distribution. “It tore apart the record book and not by a little.

Blowing past all reasonable predictions, Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, which stars Bradley Cooper as the most prolific sniper in US military history, crushed the January record books with a scorching $90.2 million Friday-to-Sunday and an estimated $105 million Friday-to-Monday debut frame. Following its remarkable $3.4 million gross across only four screens, the film’s first day in wide release has made it look like a blockbuster, earning $30.5 million on Friday.

By an enormous amount.” “American Sniper,” recently picked up Oscar nods for Best Picture and Best Actor for star Bradley Cooper, and the awards buzz only intensified interest in the film. 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). 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.

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. 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. The Bradley Cooper vehicle went wide this weekend after scorching four-theater per-screen-averages of over $100k p.s.a. for three weekends of limited release starting on Christmas Day where it earned $3 million going into the weekend. It also keeps Hart’s box office roll going following his success in recent hits such as “Ride Along” and “Think Like a Man.” “Kevin Hart really is that guy that everybody wants to hang with,” said Rory Bruer, Sony Pictures president of worldwide distribution. “Not only is he always funny, but he’s that guy that you want to sit down and have a beer with.

American Sniper, with Bradley Cooper starring as Navy SEAL sharpshooter Chris Kyle, initially opened in December to packed theaters in limited release — making nearly $3.4 million on a handful of screens in Los Angeles, New York and Dallas. 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. Saturday is where the family movie will shine, likely giving the current number two spot—Kevin Hart’s The Wedding Ringer, which has sold $7.4 million in tickets—a serious run.

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. The film, based on the beloved bear star of the children’s books, scored well with critics (98% approval on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences alike (87%). Perhaps the weekend’s only disappointment was the debut of the Chris Hemsworth-starring Blackhat, which earned $4 million for the weekend ($4.6 million for the four-day).

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. American Sniper, directed by Clint Eastwood, earning mostly decent reviews and the above-noted Oscar buzz, and acting as a rare big-budget war movie that didn’t necessarily rub audiences’ faces in the morality of the specific conflict was indeed akin to The Avengers for the specific audience that will eat this up like catnip. 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.

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.

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