UPDATE 1-Eastwood’s “American Sniper” continues as US box office juggernaut

25 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘American Sniper’ continues box office dominance.

The Navy SEAL drama — reviled by Michael Moore and Bill Maher, adored by critics and audiences — topped the box office for a second weekend in a row with $64.4 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” continued its box office dominance this weekend, picking up $64.4 million and steamrolling over everything in sight, including Johnny Depp.Clint Eastwood’s “” turned out another massive audience at North American theaters over the weekend, providing cover for another bomb elsewhere at the multiplex. 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.

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 at ninth with $4.1 million. 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. 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.

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. Contributing to the strength of “American Sniper” were premium-priced showings on extra-large screens operated by theater chains like Cinemark, which is based in Plano, Tex. 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. Depp’s oddball characters and plain disinterest in the goofy art-dealer-caper premise were cited by box-office analysts on Sunday as possible explanations.

Robert Abele described the film in a review for the Los Angeles Times as “breathless, uninspired January junk that feels like the iffiest bits of a Lifetime movie and late-night cable schlock slapped together. (And not erotically.)” “Mortdecai,” starring Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow and Ewan McGregor, fared equally badly with critics. Much of the Sunday afternoon box office quarterbacking will center on Depp’s deflating career, but “American Sniper’s” endurance was the true stunner. The third new release of the weekend, the animated “Strange Magic,” a pet project of George Lucas released on Disney’s Touchstone label, took in a sad $5.5 million. 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.

Its debut placed behind The Weinstein Co.’s “Paddington,” which added $12.4 million in its second weekend, and “The Wedding Ringer,” the Kevin Hart comedy from Sony, which took in $11.6 million, also in its second weekend. The picture, written and executive produced by founder George Lucas, was directed by Gary Rydstrom, with voices from Evan Rachel Wood and Elijah Kelley among others for a cast of goblins, elves, fairies and imps.

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. The madcap, fairy tale musical inspired by William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” had been forecast to collect $5.3 million by Boxoffice.com. 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.

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