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Box Office: ‘American Sniper’ to Dominate Super Bowl Weekend with $35 Million

Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” is set to leave the competition in the dust during Super Bowl weekend, eyeing at least $35 million in North American theaters in its third weekend in wide release.

Should that estimate hold, “American Sniper” will become the 87th film to pass the $250 million mark. That should happen during Super Bowl Sunday. That level of business would represent a decline of only 44% from the second weekend, signalling that the Bradley Cooper vehicle will continue generating solid business in coming weeks.

It would not be an enormous surprise should “American Sniper” wrap up the weekend with over $40 million. It’s overperformed significantly from studio projections on its first two weekends in the wake of six Oscar nominations.

“The playability of ‘American Sniper’ has not diminished one bit,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. “This film was never trying to be a blockbuster but it’s performing like one. And there’s continuing controversy about it, which never hurts.”

Warner Bros. is adding 180 locations this weekend, bringing its total to 3,885. “American Sniper” already has a record for the largest location count for an R-rated film. It’s grossed $209.6 million as of Wednesday, making it the 10th highest-grossing film of all titles released in 2014.

The weekend will also see openings from Paramount’s Platinum Dunes time-travel tale “Project Almanac,” with 2,800 locations; Relativity’s drama “Black or White,” at about 1,700; and Open Road’s thriller “The Loft,” at 1,841. The trio’s combined gross should be around $25 million and won’t come anywhere near the takings for “American Sniper.”

Super Bowl weekend has tended to attract films geared toward females and teens. The top openings came in 2008 with “Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds” with $31.1 million and 2010’s “Dear John” with $30.5 million.

“Project Almanac,” which carries a $12 million budget, should perform the best out of the new entrants with $10 million to $12 million over three days. The film will also open day-and-date in Russia, Spain and New Zealand, and stars Jonny Weston, Sofia Black-D’Elia, Sam Lerner, Allen Evangelista and Virginia Gardner.

Black or White” is expected to finish in the $7 million to $9 million range. Kevin Costner financed, produces and stars, portraying a grandfather left to care for his beloved granddaughter. When her paternal grandmother (Octavia Spencer) seeks custody with the help of her brother (Anthony Mackie), the little girl is torn between two families.

Expectations are not elevated for “The Loft,” a murder mystery about five married men who share a penthouse for extramarital affairs, with a forecast of about $5 million. Stars include James Marsden, Rachael Taylor, Rhona Mitra, Eric Stonestreet, Karl Urban and Wentworth Miller.

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