Weekend Box Office: ‘American Sniper’ Is A Full-Fledged Phenomenon

It’s strange now to think that American Sniper got a platform release like it was an arthouse movie, because it’s playing like superhero movie. And I mean like a popular superhero movie, not Amazing Spider-Man 2. American Sniper earned an estimated $90.2 million domestically this weekend, making it not just a hit, but a bona fide phenomenon.

Unleash the bullet points. Sniper now has…

  • The largest January opener of all time, more than doubling the previous record (Ride Along‘s $41 million last year)
  • The second largest weekend ever for an R-rated film (behind The Matrix: Reloaded‘s $91.2 million)
  • The 40th biggest opening of all time
  • The eighth-biggest debut ever for an explicit non-sequel/prequel
  • The biggest R-rated IMAX opening ever ($11.5 million)
  • This year’s highest-grossing Best Picture nominee
  • A higher gross than Birdman, The Theory of Everything, Boyhood and Whiplash combined

Playing 57% male and 63% over 25 years old, it received an A+ cinemascore. Meaning, it’s going to make a lot more money. $250 million-plus is in the realm of possibility according to some. And this for a film that only cost $58 million to make.

Not bad for the dude who screamed about crab cakes and football in Wedding Crashers.

The fact that a movie aimed at adults can do this well in January should prove once and for all that January isn’t just a month to put Nic Cage movies about witches anymore.

There are surely lots of reasons for American Sniper‘s success, but let’s not overlook a basic one: it had a really good trailer.

The other movies opening this weekend didn’t do half bad either. The Wedding Ringer took $21 million and Paddington took $19.3 million. Overall box office was up 19% from the same weekend last year.

Kevin Hart has now had four straight $20 million-plus openings, all on movies sold almost entirely on the basis of having Kevin Hart in them. The Wedding Ringer only did about half as well as Ride Along, but was still incredible considering it was a half-assed Hitch rip off co-starring Josh Gad, who I’ve heard gets a blowjob from a dog in the film. He’s probably my 26th or 27th favorite Josh behind Josh Lucas, but probably hasn’t broken through as a star in his own right quite yet.

Oh hey, remember Blackhat? I forgot that was opening this week and I saw it.

Opening at 2,567 theaters, Blackhat earned a miniscule $4 million this weekend. That’s director Michael Mann’s lowest opening since Manhunter in 1986. It’s also one of the worst debuts ever for a movie playing in over 2,500 locations. [BoxOfficeMojo]

It also received a C- Cinemascore from people who saw it. It’s a real bummer, because the public could use a wake-up call when it comes to malfeasance in the tin futures market. It may have been the tin market expose the world needed, but it wasn’t the one they wanted right now. Sometimes these things happen.

[other sources: Forbes, HollywoodReporter]