American Sniper dominates box office during MLK weekend

2015-01-20 12:27

New York - Clint Eastwood's R-rated Iraq War drama American Sniper opened in January like a superhero movie in July, taking in a record $105.3m over the Martin Luther King Jr four-day weekend.

The film's unprecedented success obliterated forecasts and set numerous box-office records. It easily surpassed Avatar to become the biggest January weekend ever.

This was actually the third week of release for American Sniper, which played in just a handful of theatres for two weeks. That slow release pattern helped stoke demand for the film, in which Bradley Cooper stars as Navy SEAL marksman Chris Kyle.

(On the set of the film, American Sniper. Warner Bros. Entertainment.)

American Sniper, nominated for six Academy Awards, immediately becomes the top grosser of the best-picture nominees. The previous biggest hit was Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel, which made $59.1m in its entire run.

"It's become a cultural phenomenon," said Dan Fellman, head of domestic distribution for Warner Bros. "The movie reached an audience that's very hard to tap into. In both red and blue states, small and large cities, tiny towns everywhere we went it broke records."

Check out some Twitter reviews of the film:

Going into the weekend, optimistic predictions for American Sniper were closer to $50m, which still would have been an enormous success, particularly considering how little appetite audiences have had for movies about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"This was maybe the most underestimated film of all time, considering that it did about twice what estimates predicted," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office firm Rentrak. "This just doesn't happen."

Take a peek at the trailer here:

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Monday at US and Canadian theatres, according to Rentrak. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released on Tuesday.

1. American Sniper - $105.3m, $6.1m international.

2. Paddington - $25.2m, $4m international.

3. The Wedding Ringer - $24.5m

4. Taken 3 - $17.4m, $31.4m international.

5. Selma - $11.5m

6. Into the Woods - $8.7m, $7.3m international.

7. The Imitation Game - $8.1m, $4m international.

8. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies - $6m, $6.1m international.

9. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb - $5.1m, $17.8m international.

10. Unbroken - $5m, $7.3m international).

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to Rentrak:

1. Taken 3 - $31.4m

2. Seventh Son - $21.7m

3. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb - $17.8m

4. Penguins of Madagascar - $16.3m

5. Exodus: Gods and King - $10.9m

6. Miss Granny - $9m

7. The Theory of Everything - $8m

8. Into the Woods - $7.3m

9. Big Hero 6 - $7.2m

10. Ode to My father - $7m

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