×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Can Box Office Help ‘American Sniper,’ ‘Unbroken’ Win Over Academy Voters?

A movie doesn’t need to be a box office hit to win an Academy Award — “The Hurt Locker” famously topped out at $17 million domestically, yet still beat “Avatar,” the highest-grossing film of all time. But strong ticket sales can make a movie difficult to ignore.

Both “American Sniper” and “Unbroken” were highly anticipated titles that took a hit when they were shut out at the SAG and Golden Globe Awards in December. Both opened on Christmas Day, though “Unbroken” went wide in more than 3,000 theaters, while “Sniper” opened in just four. And both have exceeded expectations with strong showings.

Given the subject matter and talent, it didn’t ever feel like the Academy would be heavily influenced by “Unbroken’s” mixed reviews. But with $45 million in four days, the crowdpleaser looks to be back on track for a best picture nom.

Perhaps even more impressive was the debut of “Sniper,” featuring a heralded performance from Bradley Cooper as U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. In its opening weekend, the film averaged more than $200,000 per theater, the best-ever opening for a Christmas release on 10 screens or fewer. Perhaps even more encouraging is the A+ Cinemascore the film landed, showing “Sniper” is in it for the long haul.

Cooper has struggled to break into the overcrowded actor race, particularly as almost all of his competitors’ films have already opened and had time to make an impression. With ballots now out, and the film fresh in theaters and the minds of voters, he’s in a great position to make a run. In addition, with director Clint Eastwood beloved by the Academy, box office success might be just the push needed to get the film firmly in the race.

More Film

  • 180423_A24_Day_03B_0897.jpg

    Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe's The Lighthouse' Wins Cannes Critics' Award

    Robert Eggers’ “The Lighthouse,” with Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, won the Cannes Film Festival critics’ award for best first or second feature in Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week, one of the first prizes for which “The Lighthouse” has been eligible at Cannes. The award was announced Saturday in Cannes by the Intl. Federation of [...]

  • promenade Cannes Croisette Cannes Placeholder

    Cannes Market Claims Record Visitor Numbers

    The Cannes Market, the Cannes Film Festival’s commercial wing, says that its 2019 edition welcomed a record number of participants. It reported 12,527 attendees. The largest group by nationality was from the U.S. with 2,264 participants, followed by France with 1,943 participants, and the U.K. 1,145. Comparable figures for 2018 were not available. The number [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'Alien' at 40: Ridley Scott Explains Why 'You Don't Show the Monster Too Many Times'

    It’s difficult to imagine Ridley Scott’s sci-fi/horror classic “Alien” without the clear-minded, strong presence of Tom Skerritt as Dallas, the captain of the ill-fated Nostromo. But originally, the actor turned down “Alien,” which celebrates its 40th anniversary on May 25, though he thought Dan O’Bannon’s script read well. “There was nobody involved at the time [...]

  • The Poison Rose

    Film Review: 'The Poison Rose'

    It is 1978 in the City of Angels and the hard-drinking washed-up sleuth Carson Phillips is having another boozy day through its atmospheric streets. There is a hint of innate coolness and self-deprecation in his elongated voiceover intro — you might even briefly mistake Carson, played by a one-note John Travolta, for a Philip Marlowe [...]

  • 'On a Magical Night' Review: A

    Cannes Film Review: 'On a Magical Night'

    Most of us, in our romantic lives, meditate here and there on the other roads we might have traveled, and movies are uniquely equipped to channel those alternate-universe-of-love possibilities. That’s the idea at the (broken) heart of “Casablanca.” And the fantasy of getting to see the turns your life didn’t take play out right in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content