It's the biggest box office shocker in years- Clint Eastwood's American Sniper has just blown expectations out of the water (way, way out) by amassing the kind of opening that now seems only reserved for superhero and YA movies. The film bowed with an astonishing $90 million over the weekend and is expected to earn $105 million over the four day holiday- the biggest January opener of all time. Couple of things to take away from this- number one, Bradley Cooper is now a huge movie star, and number two, Clint Eastwood at 84 years old, can still direct a blockbuster. Also, the movie was clearly boosted by its six Oscar nominations Thursday morning, which gave it significantly more buzz after it had been playing in limited release for the last few weeks. With that kind of an opening, a $300 million total is not out of the question, giving it a chance to challenge The Hunger Games and Guardians of the Galaxy for the highest grossing movie of 2014.
I think the encouraging thing about it is the fact that a non-sequel, non-franchise movie from a big studio, intended for adult audiences and not teenagers, can still make the kind of money most think only comic book movies can. Maybe it'll encourage studios to consider more original properties as the coming onslaught of superhero films is bound to wear thin at some point. The Wedding Ringer opened with $21 million, about half of Kevin Hart's last hit Ride Along, and The Weinstein Co.'s Paddington played pretty well with family audiences, opening with $19 million. Taken 3 fell 64% from last week to land at No. 4, and Selma also decreased about 27% (disappointingly over the MLK weekend), to round out the top five.
- American Sniper- $90.2 million
- The Wedding Ringer- $21 million
- Paddington- $19.3 million
- Taken 3- $14.1 million
- Selma- $8.3 million
Outside the top ten, The Imitation Game held steady at No. 7 and has now crossed $50 million domestically and $100 million global- by Oscar night, American Sniper and Imitation will probably be the only two Best PIcture nominees to top $100 million in the lineup (another reason I can't believe they left out Gone Girl). Other limited release Oscar movies like Birdman, Theory of Everything and Whiplash received small boosts from the nominations haul, but none of them are going to break out of the arthouse realm in the next month. And Michael Mann's Blackhat bombed in wide release, earning a paltry $4 million total over the weekend, I guess showing that Chris Hemsworth is decidedly not a draw outside of the Thor movies. Come back next week when we'll see how well American Sniper can hold, and also if Johnny Depp's Mortdecai and George Lucas's animated Strange Magic can do any damage. Next week also sees the limited release of Jennifer Aniston's Cake and the Cannes winner Mommy, from French-Canadian director Xavier Dolan.