Box Office: ‘American Sniper’ Shatters Records With $90.2 Million Weekend

American Sniper” hit the bullseye, earning an astonishing $90.2 million in its debut weekend in wide release.

It is now on pace to upend records for the Martin Luther King holiday and for the month of January, pulling in roughly $105 million over the four-day period. 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.

For context’s sake, the previous top-grossing Martin Luther King weekend release was last year’s “Ride Along” with $48.6 million.

“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. 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. The war drama was co-produced and co-financed by Village Roadshow for less than $60 million. Early projections had pegged a wide release debut in the $40 million range.

What was amazing about “American Sniper’s” performance is that, despite dealing with the unpopular Iraq War and such depressing topics as post-traumatic stress disorder, it put up numbers similar to a blockbuster summer release.

Analysts likened the reception to “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which shattered expectations last summer in part because of the endorsements it received on social media platforms. By debuting in a handful of theaters on Christmas, “American Sniper” was able to build support organically.

“This is unprecedented,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at “In the climate we live in, word-of-mouth can push a movie really far, really fast.”

“American Sniper” also benefited from its 332 Imax screenings, where it is expected to generate $11.5 million for the four-day weekend and enjoyed the format’s biggest ever R-rated opening. In premium large formats, the war drama made $9.7 million for the weekend.

“American Sniper” wasn’t the only record breaker. Sony and Screen Gems’ “The Wedding Ringer,” starring Kevin Hart as a best man for hire, now ranks as the No. 1 R-rated comedy opening for the month of January.

The film earned $21 million for the weekend and should pick up $25 million for the four-day holiday. Those numbers are good news for a film that cost an economical $23 million to produce. 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. He exudes charisma.”

Bruer said he was pleased that the film didn’t get swept aside by “American Sniper,” particularly because both pictures are R-rated.

“It’s a victory for the ‘The Wedding Ringer’ this weekend with this R-rated juggernaut in the marketplace,” he added.

The Weinstein Co.’s “Paddington” opened to $19.3 million from 3,303 screens for the weekend and a third-place finish. By Monday, however, it could supplant “The Wedding Ringer” as the holiday’s second highest-grossing film as it is also expected to earn roughly $25 million over the four-day period. The Weinstein Company picked up U.S. distribution rights from StudioCanal, which financed the $55 million adaptation of Michael Bond’s beloved series about a talking bear with a penchant for marmalade sandwiches.

The film is set up nicely when it comes to competition for the family dollar. It has the market more or less to itself until “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” debuts on Feb. 6.

“The parents like it just as much as the kids and getting some adult business is always a good sign with films like this,” said Erik Lomis, distribution chief for The Weinstein Company.

“American Sniper’s” success was bad news for the weekend’s other adult drama, “Blackhat.” Michael Mann’s look at the way we hack now with Chris Hemsworth trading in Thor’s hammer for a keyboard, flopped. It earned a doleful $4 million from 2,567 locations for the weekend and should make $4.6 million over the holiday. That’s a dreadful result for the $70 million production and the worst of Mann’s career. It’s lower even than the modest $10 million the studio projected “Blackhat” would pull in over the four-day period.

Legendary Pictures backed the film, with Universal distributing. The filmmakers will now look abroad in order to stem some of that red ink.

“We wish the film would have found a bigger audience,” said Nick Carpou, Universal’s president of domestic distribution. “We think, based on the director and Chris Hemsworth, that it’s got strong international appeal.”

The top five was rounded out by holdovers, “Taken 3” and “Selma.” Liam Neeson’s latest vigilante flick fell sharply in its sophomore frame, dropping more than 60% to earn $14 million over the weekend and bringing its total to $62.8 million.

Despite being snubbed in several major Oscar categories, Paramount Pictures’ “Selma” capitalized on the Martin Luther King holiday, earning $8.3 million. It should earn $10.3 million over the four-day period. The Civil Rights drama has made nearly $28 million since premiering in limited release on Christmas.

Among Oscar contenders, “The Imitation Game” benefited from its eight nominations, earning $7.2 million and bringing its total to more than $50 million. It will expand from 1,611 locations to more than 2,500 next weekend. The Weinstein Company, which is distributing the film, says the biopic of code-breaker Alan Turing is performing better than “The King’s Speech” did at a similar point in its release schedule. A gross of $100 million or more seems possible.

In limited release, “Still Alice” sought to capitalize on Julianne Moore’s recent Golden Globe win for best actress. The film debuted on 12 screens after having a brief Oscar qualifying run last winter. The drama about a college professor with Alzheimer’s disease earned $212,432, for a per screen average of $17,703.

The success of “American Sniper” helped push the holiday weekend to new highs, lifting the overall box office up more than 13% over last year’s numbers. This year is expected to shatter records thanks to sequels to films such as “Star Wars” and “The Avengers,” and, it would seem, a gritty war drama from Clint Eastwood.

“What a great way to kick off the box office,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. “If this is going to end up as the first $11 billion year in history, it’s going to be because of weekends like this and unexpected performances like ‘American Sniper.'”

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 39

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Superb, what a blog it is! This web site provides valuable data to us, keep it up.

  2. This was an amazing movie, one of the best I have ever seen. Everyone should see it. We need to thank our veterans, respect them, thank them, and honor them.

  3. wjriedel says:

    Liam Neesom’s movie dropped so much because of his shameful and disgraceful comments about guns and the 2nd amendment. His career will continue to suffer.

  4. greg says:

    Heard nothing but good news bout da movie. I’m going see it when I get in from offshore.

  5. Very good movie. You can easily see how a government and the media can easily manipulate people into believing falsehoods. Take for example that the film links 9/11 to Iraq when Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. I am guessing the people who made the film is taking it for granted that the audience would know now that 9/11 was conducted by Saudi’s trained in Afghanistan financed by the Saudi’s Poor Chris Kyle and people like him were sent to face hell base on lies by the Bush Administration aided by the media.

  6. Cecil B Da Mill says:

    Hanging with the Coop, I mean American Sniper is the type of movie that will put the bussiness back where it should be. It takes pros to get the job done…Every actor with a picture or two under her belt thinks she can direct and produce and Hollywood has been struck with mediocrity…just maybe we have come to a turn.

  7. Julienne says:

    God Bless all our Military Troops… that Patriotically ‘Volunteer’, for fighting the world’s worst Islamic Terrorists, Ruthless Dictators and Communist scumbags.

    “American Sniper” is an inspiring film that reveals what it’s like to have to face evil in the eye.

    Evil that uses women and children to fight their battles.

  8. IT 2 IT says:

    Makes MONEY.


    ‘MON’ meaning SLAVE in the BABYLONIAN.

    KYLE, meanwhile, seems to have been snuffed to SILENCE him
    from coming clean in the face of Ventura and ‘other things’.

    EASTWODO, meanwhile, ‘mysteriously BALKS’ some 5 decades
    of milestone anniversaries for the now 21st century LINCHPIN,
    GLOBALIST MAFIA and RED CHINA ‘uncomfortable’ ———– – – -KOREAN WAR.

    “The LOVE of ‘MON—KNEE’
    —————–is –the– ROOT of ALLLL EVIL.”



  9. Justin Burnell says:

    Reblogged this on THB Files and commented:
    I saw the movie on last Friday at the show. It was intense. Bradley Cooper did a good hell of a job in it.

  10. harry georgatos says:

    BLACKHAT had no chance against AMERICAN SNIPER as both films fall in to the same demographic! Heads must roll on whoever decided to release BLACKHAT against AMERICAN SNIPER. Most dumbest decision ever to have been made.

  11. The assertion made in the article that Sniper’s success is based on WOM spreading from its platform release fails to account for the fact that its platform opener had an incredibly high PTA and its opening weekend honestly just scales that across 3000+ screens.

  12. Cas says:

    Sweet god the comments on this story are wildly depressing and straight up racist. I think we now know the caliber of people who flocked to this movie. The same people declaring a dubious man like Chris Kyle an “American Hero”. Enjoy your propaganda!

    • Ruth says:

      I live in very BLUE San Francisco, it was also sold out everywhere. SF is changing a lot though. The left is in freefall, enjoy!!! Now you know how we on the other side felt all these many long years. The nightmare is over for us, just beginning for you on the left. Take good care, you never know, you might be on the right sometime soon as people change their opinions like socks.

    • Jane says:

      I live in very blue Manhattan all showings sold out. Dear god I hate I tolerant people like you who have to put down everyone.

  13. Diane we says:

    Just seen American Sniper, Great Movie it was breath taking it was thoughtful especially the grace in which it ended. A+ for Bradley Cooper and Clint Eatwood the filming was tight and it was very touching.
    Loved It.

  14. Robin Poe says:

    I went to a Matinee early Saturday, and the theatre was packed. I don’t think I breathed during the entire film. The flow of the action/drama was so tight and intense, there was no break. It definitely had that Clint Eastwood style to it. There was applause from the audience and the end and everyone left in an odd, reverent silence. The film hits you to your core.

  15. sam goop says:

    Selma – Another whoa is me blacks got it so bad pity party. Blacks are racist to think every bad civil rights movie should be Oscar worthy.

  16. Brad Lee says:

    So I hear that “American Sniper” has somewhat cleaned up & sensationalized the image of a racist psychopath….yet it gets given an Oscar nomination….now if the reports I hear are true, should it not count in the final vote???? IS it not like giving an posthumous Oscar to “Birth of a Nation”

    In fact, let’s forget racism, here is a simple question. Should history biopics that not only blatantly changes historical events that actually happened but completely misrepresent the character they are portraying be EXCLUDED from Oscar contention? Why does “Lifelines” biopic on Aayliah get ridiculed and panned for doing exactly what this film is doing but Eastwood gets a pass????

    Because it’s not really being a good director is it, changing what happened in real life just to fit your personal story arc….a good director takes the story and makes it visually interesting even if the scenario might not be….

  17. Benjamin says:

    Richard, your SELMA rant is incoherent, and idiotic, along with being premature. First of all, it has already made 28 million at the domestic box office and that is already more than the film budget. So the film, in 2200 theaters compared to other high profile film distributions, is doing great. It’s going to be a very successful film financially, but regardless, since when has being a huge blockbuster success been the criteria for being BEST PICTURE. It hasn’t been in the past but we all know that nomination and award criteria are subject to fluctuate when it comes to handing out Oscars. But more importantly, neither you nor any Academy voter can judge what’s a good bio picture vs a cinematic achievement based on “how it looks.”. When you get off your high horse long enough to actually see the film and make a coherent assessment, then you can add a comment that’s actually valuable. And let’s be honest you don’t have a clue how many African Americans have gone to see the film, so stop trying to use that as an argument of Oscar worthiness. White people aren’t rushing out to see the two films that got the most Oscar nominations, BIRDMAN and GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (9 nominations each), either. That didn’t stop either one from racking up nominations across the board. Neither is going to be a huge blockbuster AND BOTH HAVE BEEN PLAYING IN THEATERS FOREVER! Now you’ll have to open up your good olé boy rulebook and find a new excuse to justify moving SELMA to the back of the bus.

    • Richard says:

      The incoherent rant as you describe it is not about a films worthiness but rather about the outrage surrounding its perceived snub as a racial issue that needs to be addressed . Not every film worthy or not are for a variety of reasons are nominated …the awards are as much about Hollywood politics and timing and a host of other factors . Did you hear any outrage or whining that the old white mans club didn’t nominate about the oldest whitest man around Clint Eastwood whose American Sniper was like Selma nominated for best pic but it’s director wasn’t. These things happen to assign a racial bias and have a major media outrage towards this organization when the year before the big winner was 12 years a slave is really grasping to see bias . No nominated film save Sniper is a huge hit but nobody is acting like it is our civic duty to support them but predictions and most analysis about the box office performance point out that Selma has been disappointing considering the buzz it has recieved and that like Sniper it did very well in its limited run as was expected to break out much bigger when it went wide . I haven’t as yet seen most of the nominated films yet as I usually see them shortly before the Oscars that doesn’t mean like many professional box office analysts I don’t have to see a film to comment on its performance.

      Also because I find it ridiculous that racial bias is being assigned to its Oscar fate you assume that I am a good old boy when nothing could be further from the truth . Maybe you should get off if your high horse and not stereotype those who have a different point of view and assign them a racial profile .

  18. Artie says:

    Kudos to Clint. This is what happens when Hollywood makes the type of film that middle America actually wants to see. Here’s a hint, honor the military, honor the country.

  19. Selena says:

    Great film, great performances and great direction!

  20. Saltheplumber says:

    I read the book and have no urge to see the movie. Chris Kyle was a dead-eye sniper, but didnt impress me as a human being…

  21. preuser says:

    Seeing Islamic-Terrorists get picked off in fim is popular with the folks Comrade Obama take note
    maybe we could put returning veteran snipers on our borders to help solve the illegal immigration problem !

  22. wiles11 says:

    Perhaps the fate of Blackhat will FINALLY convince Hollywood to stop this embarrassing, tiresome dalliance with China.

    I’m sure with Mann at the helm it will be at least watchable (if presumably very dated a few years from now), but seriously, can Hollywood execs and creatives just put to rest this notion that any kind of future lies in co-productions with Mainland China, or shooting portions of tentpoles there as bald-faced bids to pander to a market that otherwise ravenously consumes American cinema regardless of any “Chinese” content or production ties?

    The exoticim has worn off, Hollywood. No one cares about these obvious suck-up co-productions with communist, Mainland China. In fact, the novelty probably wore off after Hollywood absorbed the HONG KONG aesthetic (and many of its creatives) back in the 90’s and 00’s. At least that industry had a unique aesthetic TO offer American cinema. What does China give you? Cost savings seems to be about it, really. They certainly haven’t produced any stars that could carry their own films over here, or command co-starring status that results in actual return on investment of the likes of Hong Kong’s best exports from back in the day (case in point: Blackhat’s Leehom Wang, talented though he is).

    Let China make their movies. We’ll make ours. A little bit of cross-pollination is acceptable when stories demand it, but it’s gotten ridiculous these past few years.

  23. Cecil B Da Mill says:

    Proves a well done movie with a great message can still make it big in this Town. Well done Mr. Eastwood!

  24. JimmyFitz says:

    PHENOMENAL Film! Loved the specificity of the tactics and details to waging war against Islamic-Terrorists that cowardly hide behind women and children. Islamic-Terrorists that really don’t care about their women and children and they use them as human shields. Very sad commentary of radical-muslims.

    The ‘Down-side’ of war was also specifically detailed in this biopic. Balancing family while serving our country is a truly heroic motivation.

    My favorite line in the entire movie, that made it all clear for me why soldiers do what they do…

    “We either fight’em over there, or we fight’em here in San Diego.” Powerful statement.

    • ploome says:

      if only

      In San Diego we pay for their education and protect their right to spew their anti-Semitism and takkiya.

      They are in San Diego-and San Francisco, and Boston and New York and Miami. They are all over.

    • Dissin' Terry says:

      Very ‘powerful.’ Especially if you substitute ‘powerful’ for ‘basically impossible.’ Stupid, ‘patriotic’, FOX News guzzling, idiotic American.

      • Britlover58 says:

        Bravo April!!! You are absolutely right. I am so SICK of the left (and that includes Obama) blaming all the ills of the world on the US. If people like Dissin’ Terry and Cas and Eric Holder and Obama don’t like that Americans are fed up with their lies and B.S., then I suggest they get the hell out. They would be the first ones in line, crying like babies as their precious pie-in-the-sky liberal villages such as L.A., New York, Boston, Philadelphia, etal burn at the hands of the very whack jobs they bow down to.

        Perhaps those of us on the right side of the political spectrum are dumb. We keep spilling our blood, heart and souls to the ungrateful fools that spurn us.

      • ImStillaYankee says:

        Hey dickinTerry, progressives (aka socialists) like you just sicken me. I’ve got relatives who are Seals, Marine Snipers and Army Rangers. The stuff they’ve told me made the movie look mild by comparison.

      • April says:

        Hey dissin terry…. Since patriotic Fox News guzzling Americans are so distasteful to you… Get the f**k out of our Contry!
        Problem Solved!
        You remember something, the dirt under your feet that you stand so high on to voice you opinion runs very red with the blood of men that died to ensure you would have the right and the freedom to spout your unappreciative rhetoric!

  25. Richard says:

    After all the media coverage and handwringing over the perceived lack of enough Oscar nominations for Selma after all the high profile free publicity it has recieved it still even over the MLK underperforms. The media, blacks and liberals who shone such a harsh light on the old white male academy are free at anytime to discuss why the movie is not being supported by the movie going black community. The movie looks like another well made bio film but not a cinematic achievement but rather slow moving respect turn. These films rarely break out into blockbuster status unless they are big budgeted with a big name talent behind them. 12 Years a Slave won big last year and we have had The Butler and now Selma not every well made film about race relations deserves nominations just for existing even black movie goers are not rushing out to see Selma not even during the MLK holiday maybe all this outrage is not racism maybe they also simply see nothing that exciting or compelling about it either.

  26. Gc says:

    Saw it on Christmas Day and will see it again. This film is all around greatness. Will get it on BluRay as well.

  27. Ralph says:

    American Sniper, Great movie.
    Had some laughs
    Had some tears
    A Better appreciation of what
    War is really like
    Out where the bullets are flying
    At home
    And the trying to wind down
    Near the end of the film
    an appearance by a
    Real Vet.
    My Military experience
    Was the Cold War era
    No one was trying to kill me

  28. Tricia says:

    Great, Great, Great news! This is such a powerful film, well acted, well directed. It felt more like a documentary. Have seen this movie when it was playing in 4 theatres, and plan on seeing it again.
    This is such a great surprise to see that people are interested in seeing real people dealing with real life

  29. ‘Dirty Harry’ still has it! Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper a gripping, moving film with great performances by all, led by the new ‘renaissance man’, Bradley Cooper!

  30. Britlover58 says:

    What do these numbers prove? It proves that Americans are starving for movies that are well written, well acted, well produced and relevant. I am personally SICK of Hollywood’s re-hashed crap, with stories that feature little to no plot, and are filled with enough CGI to choke a horse. I’ve often said that if Hollywood would simply peruse the history books, they would find numerous hidden gems with REAL heroes that the average American would love to watch. Isn’t it interesting that “American Sniper”, “Unbroken”, “The Imitation Game” and “Selma” focus on real people — strengths and weaknesses, real events and are dominating the box office. Pay attention Hollywood!

    By the way, what else does this movie show us? That we Americans forget who is across the world, fighting for us, and that most of us give them nothing but lip service. We treat prisoners in Guantanamo and average thugs better than we treat the men and women in our armed services. It’s shameful!

More Film News from Variety