Michael Moore Calls Snipers ‘Cowards’ Following American Sniper’s Success

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘American Sniper’ smashes box office records.

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. 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.Even as “American Sniper” breaks January box-office records and revels in six Oscar nominations, criticism over the subject of the film, sharpshooter Chris Kyle, is rising and reaching into the Academy of Motion Picture of Arts and Sciences, which votes on the Academy Awards. 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 $89.5 million Friday-to-Sunday and an estimated $105.3 million Friday-to-Monday debut frame.

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. American Sniper marks the biggest launch ever for a non-tentpole Hollywood title, as well as for a movie opening in January — much less an R-rated modern-day war film (the previous best for a drama was The Passion of the Christ with $83.8 million). Over the weekend, multiple Academy members told TheWrap 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, who said: “The enemy are savages and despicably evil,” and his “only regret is that I didn’t kill more.” Kyle made the statements in his best-selling book, “American Sniper,” on which the film is based. 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).

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. And the film’s three-day haul of $89.5 million marks the No. 2 debut for an R-rated film after The Matrix: Reloaded ($91.8 million), not accounting for inflation. 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.

But Academy members seem to be paying attention to the criticism that Eastwood and star/producer Bradley Cooper shouldn’t be celebrating a man who wrote that killing hundreds of Iraqis was “fun.” “He seems like he may be a sociopath,” one Academy member told TheWrap, adding he had not yet seen the film but had read the article, which is being passed around. 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. Just as impressive, American Sniper is posting strong numbers overseas, despite its pro-American military theme, earning $25.4 million to date for an early worldwide cume of $134.1 million. “It is a cultural phenomenon and a perfect storm,” said Warners domestic distribution chief Dan Fellman. “If you would have told me we’d do these numbers, I would have replied that you were smoking something. It marks director Eastwood’s biggest debut, surpassing “Gran Torino,” which earned $29.5 million in 2008. “American Sniper topped that with Friday’s $30.5 million opening.

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. It performed well in every market, from the smallest town to the biggest cities.” Earning a coveted A+ CinemaScore in every category, Sniper galvanized moviegoers in both red states and blue states. 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.

Josh Gad and Kevin Hart’s The “Wedding Ringer” took second place with $21 million for the three-day weekend (an estimated $25 million for four days). 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.

And invaders r worse.” Neither distributor Warner Bros. nor the filmmakers have responded to TheWrap’s request for comment, though the studio said they intended to make someone available. The film, based on the beloved bear star of the children’s books, scored well with critics (98 percent approval on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences (87 percent) alike. Still, Wedding Ringer didn’t match the $27.8 million debut of Hart’s About Last Night over Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day weekend in February 2014. Meanwhile, the New Republic’s Jett has taken criticism for criticizing “Sniper” before seeing the film. “I have not seen ‘American Sniper,’” he wrote. “But if the trailer is any indication, Eastwood’s film, like ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ tries to make a straightforward situation more complex than it is.” Jett quickly attracted scorn for dismissing a film he hadn’t seen. Kyle was also sued by Jesse Ventura over a claim he made in his book that he decked Ventura – who Kyle didn’t identify by name in the book, but did in interviews afterwards – in a bar after the vet-turned-politician spewed anti-American sentiment.

Complaints that Kyle may have lied about his activities, and that he was too enthusiastic a killer, have been around since the publication of the book. 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. He called the film “the single best work of film about the Iraq War ever made,” said Kyle was a “real-life super hero” and then admitted, “‘American Sniper’ does not … much address the overall complexity of the larger political issues surrounding the war — or the complexity of the Iraqi side of the experience. 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.

We were right, they were wrong … “It was not the war I saw during my time as an infantry platoon leader in Baghdad, and not the war many others saw overflowing with spectrums of gray. Other best-picture contenders — including Birdman, The Theory of Everything and Whiplash — stand to benefit less, since they are further into their runs. 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. Still, they can count on boosting their grosses to some degree And, on the heels of Julianne Moore’s win at the Golden Globes for Still Alice and an Oscar nomination for best actress, Sony Pictures Classics opened the Alzheimer’s drama this weekend in 12 theaters in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington, D.C. 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.

As Grantland’s Mark Harris tweeted, “’American Sniper’s’ huge opening being touted as a triumph for conservatives is, I think, where its Oscar story ends.” To be sure, MLK weekend was prosperous for any number of films, but it also brought the first bomb of 2015 — director Michael Mann’s big-budget action-thriller Blackhat, about a cyberattack on worldwide banking systems that the U.S. and China try to stop. Despite its topicality in light of the hacking of Sony (reportedly by North Korea) and the star power of Chris Hemsworth, Blackhat fell outside of the top 10 with a four-day debut of $4.4 million (it placed No. 11). 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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