Box Office: ‘American Sniper’ Tops With $64.4 Million, ‘Mortdecai’ Flops

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.

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. 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.”

“Something needs to click soon,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “It’s a couple of misses in a row and that always stings.”

“Mortdecai” cost $60 million to make and was backed by OddLot Entertainment and released by Lionsgate. It had been expected to gross in the neighborhood of $10 million.

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 Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow release has made an astounding $200 million.

“The movie reached many, many people because it deals with family, with patriotism and it recognizes a hero,” said Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. domestic distribution chief. “You see it in the heartland and in the smaller towns. These are staggering numbers.”

“American Sniper” cost $60 million to produce. It has not been without controversy, but the film shrugged off the ongoing debate about Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s heroism, or lack thereof, to put up huge numbers and drop a slender 28% from its wide release opening last weekend. That’s an industry record for a film that debuted in wide release to more than $85 million, passing previous high-water marks set by “Spider-Man” and “Shrek 2.”

“Regardless of anything that’s come out on the negative side, the reaction from the public is so positive and this is one movie they have really supported,” said Fellman.

“Mortdecai” wasn’t the only box office non-starter. Disney’s “Strange Magic” came in seventh, debuting to $5.5 million. It had been projected to earn about $10 million but struggled in its matchup with another family film, “Paddington.” The animated “Strange Magic” 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.

“We are disappointed with the result,” said Dave Hollis, Disney’s distribution chief.

The weekend’s other major new release, Universal’s “The Boy Next Door,” fared better, earning a solid $15 million from 2,602 locations and second place status. The film was produced by Jason Blum’s Blumhouse for a modest $4 million and stars Jennifer Lopez.

Its opening weekend audience was weighted toward females, who made up 71% of ticket buyers, and Hispanics, who comprised 45%.

“Basically, Jennifer Lopez is great, and people responded to her,” said Nick Carpou, Universal’s president of domestic distribution. “She was the number one reason people wanted to see this movie.”

Among holdovers, the Weinstein Company’s “Paddington” nabbed $12.4 million, and has earned $40 million after two weeks in theaters. Fourth place finisher Sony’s “The Wedding Ringer” snagged $11.6 million, bringing its total to nearly $40 million, while “Taken 3” nabbed fifth position and $7.6 million, raising its box office haul to $76.1 million.

The Weinstein Company’s “The Imitation Game” officially became the top-grossing indie release of 2014, passing “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” It earned $7.1 million, pushing its total to more than $60 million. The film about code-breaker Alan Turing has also crossed the $100 million mark globally, and is on pace to gross more than $100 million in the U.S.

In limited release, Cinelou Films debuted “Cake” to $1 million in 482 locations. 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.

Focus Features also bowed nautical thriller “Black Sea” to $35,000 in five locations. It will expand to roughly 300 venues next weekend.

Box office prognosticators have been projecting that 2015 will be a record breaker, as it offers up sequels to “Star Wars” and “The Avengers,” but the first three months seemed weaker on paper than the first quarter of 2014. Thanks to “American Sniper,” that may no longer be the case — the film almost single-handedly pushed this weekend up more than 30% over the year-ago period. Year-to-date ticket sales are now up 9.3%, according to Rentrak.

“It’s unbelievable, unprecedented and unexpected,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. “All it takes is one movie like this to create a situation where we’re looking at numbers in January that we’re not accustomed to seeing.”

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  1. bob wood says:

    So, this so called director Michael Moore, I think it his name. Is calling SNIPERS cowards. So, in todays news we have several American Snipers guarding our President over seas for protection. So has he called the White House to tell them what he thinks of those snipers protecting our President. These guys are needed. They protect our troops over seas. They put there lives on the line for there fellow troops and our President. They are brave. They aren’t sitting behind a computer ordering pizza to go. Ignorance is Bliss and Michael Moore this so called director is just jealous that Clint Eastwood can get off the couch to work and put out a magnificent movie. I’m sorry what is his name and what has he done. Get a life.

  2. Kevin says:

    It seems whenever a movie comes out during Awards Season that is based on a real person or event it’s not long before the media and critics (move away from talking about it’s production values), the acting, the directing and so forth. Suddenly all that matters is everything that is not up on the screen.

    I saw this happen with Denzel Washington’s “The Hurricane” and most recently Leonardo DiCaprio’s “The Wolf of Wall Street”. I thought both actors did outstanding jobs in their roles and the production values of both movies were excellent.

    With regard to “American Sniper” Bradley Cooper was superb in the role and Clint Eastwood once again demonstrated he is a masterful in director. The war scenes rang true per statements from Vets who actually served in Iraq. The real travesty is these things are not being discussed at all!

  3. Jimmy Green says:

    There is a problem American Sniper’s producers face in choosing what clip to show at the academy awards. There are SO MANY outstanding moments in the film. I’m thinking maybe the “sheepdog” conversation scene will be shown.

  4. shar07 says:

    Yea, funny how Variety doesn’t mention the fact that Cake bombed horribly. All that hype and only $2000 per screen, yet Still Alice in it’s second week had a per screen average with over $10,000+ with less fake hype.

  5. Darryl Sanchez says:

    Every several years a film comes along that hits the American and/or international zeitgeist. “The Passion of The Christ” was one; “Fatal Attraction” was another; obviously there are more that I can’t think of at this second off the top of my head. Whatever the case, “American Sniper” is one of these films. Whether you’re liberal, or conservative, or whatever your ilk of sexuality or ethnicity, this film is obviously hitting all the right buttons for folks. I have gay friends that loved it; I have straight friends that love it. Whether you believe the character is a hero, or simply a mass murderer, the fact of the matter is that this is simply a film. Filmmaking can take a lot of creative licensing to simply tell its story. This is NOT a documentary on the guy! These personal attacks of each other simply because of a movie are way out of control! Love the film if you want; hate the film if you want. The fact of the matter is that “American Sniper” is a box-office hit that many Americans want to see right now. I can’t say how it’ll fare internationally (preliminary box-office is not all that spectacular), but it’s definitely blowing the competition out of the water back in the States…! (I’m an American in Australia. I’m gonna be interested in seeing what opening week is like Down Under.) Box-office is good for the industry…!! :D

    • Julienne says:

      Too bad you don’t get it either Darryl. It’s the S-T-O-R-Y. Americans want to be inspired, affected AND entertained.

  6. “One of the best films ever made about patriotically shooting people in a country that never attacked us.” John Fuglesang

  7. Julienne says:

    And it will continue to do well. It’s a great American story about a great American Patriot.

    And Americans are tired of hearing from the P.C. Police how bad it is to want freedom…and unfortunately, you have to fight for that.

    End of story. The Liberal-Left have awoken the sleeping giant.

    • “The Liberal-Left have awoken the sleeping giant”

      They have indeed.

    • Tricia says:

      Well said

    • Mike says:

      You clearly have no idea what this film is about or the fact that it was produced by liberals, financed by liberals and released by liberals. Not to mention the fact that Clint Eastwood, the man who made the film describes it as an ANTI WAR film. All this does is prove that you morons make up your own reality.

      • Julienne says:

        Oh-Mikey….how shallow your depth of your understanding the reality that MOST of America, loves our country and our soldiers that have fought and died for our freedoms. Malpaso is NOT by any stretch of the imagination, a Liberal Production Company. Clint has his First Look Deal with the WB…and always has. The film was financed by an Middle Eastern Indian, but nice try, ole chap.

        AND, to straighten out your misunderstanding of Clint’s quote…he said, “To some, it will open their eyes to the horrors of war and seem like it’s an “Anti-War” film, but instead, it’s just a factual, realistic view of what our soldiers are faced with every day, over there.” K?

      • Fre says:

        What did she state that was ideal-less?
        It’s a great American story, about a great American patriot. Whats wrong there?

        Americans, many ‘are’ tired of the PC police in that regard, liberal and conservative alike.

        Clint directed and produced it, he was a main drive behind the film and he’s a conservative so wrong there. The subject and author of the book, Kyle was a conservative as well. And those others who also financed, released and helped produce this you know are liberals because you vote with them or something? Please. This film was brought based on the character it’s about and his vision.

        Unlike where you did have Ideologues of that ilk try and change something from what it is to what it’s not and Fail miserably. Such as Noah, Exodus who tried to ‘capitalize monetarily’ yet bastardized the subject and….failed.

        This is a human interest story, not something you try to make it out to be.
        Yet you talk about “Morons” ”making up” their own reality???
        Yea…. ok.

        Like it or not because it goes against your illogical slant, does not make it what it’s not no matter how much you wish it did.

      • John Ph.D says:

        Correction, reformed liberals who now have to support the Patriotism and conservatism of their movie..

  8. Richard says:

    Would be nice to see the breakdowns of how well Sniper is playing across the nation and the age and sex demos many snarky references in the media …heartland …once a year movie pilgramage to the cinema ect. showing the liberal bias many complain about. I am from the heartland and middle aged and frequent movie goer but didn’t see Hurt Locker , Lone Survivor or similar movies yet for a variety of reasons this movie is a def must see. It just appears this is a serious adult movie that speaks to many demographics and had a extremely effective add campaign.

    • Alex says:

      Reports are it’s doing great in flyover country, like the TV show “Empire”, word of mouth is doing a great job making them both hits.

  9. me says:

    Let’s not forget that Robert DeNiro himself starred in “Bullwinkle”, so maybe Johnny Depp is also at that stage in his career where he does what he wants and to heck with what people think.

  10. Hank says:

    Jonny Deeps movies rank aboug the same as Pauly Shores

  11. Alternative View says:

    And yet is was a “Homosexual” who helped defeat the Nazis in that OTHER war movie currently playing, THE IMITATION GAME, which is currently earning lots of coin and praise. Your thinking is squirrelly.

  12. Pete Hammer says:

    I take it you’re white, straight and … big?

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