Weekend Box Office: American Sniper Takes Down Depp, Lopez and Lucas

American Sniper review

It was another great weekend for Warner’s American Sniper as the Clint Eastwood-directed blockbuster stayed firmly in place at the top of the North American box office. The military drama easily held off the okay opening of Universal’s cheapie thriller The Boy Next Door and the dreadful debuts of the Johnny Depp bomb Mortdecai and the George Lucas-produced Strange Magic. Overall, the top ten was down 23% from last weekend’s holiday totals but up a huge 47% over last year at this time thanks to Sniper’s phenomenal run.

If no one was expecting American Sniper to open to $107 million last weekend, they certainly weren’t expecting it to hold up as well as it did this weekend. The Best Picture nominee fell only 28% from its record opening to earn $64.4 million on 3,705 screens, which brought its domestic total to a massive $200 million, an indication that the film is playing well across the board in all parts of the country. The $64 million haul was the fourth-best ever for a non-sequel in its second weekend. Only The Avengers, Avatar and the 2002 Spider-Man did better.


Without adjusting for inflation, American Sniper surpassed 2001’s Pearl Harbor $198 million to become the second biggest-grossing military film of all time. Saving Private Ryan still holds the crown with $216 million, which Sniper should pass sometime this week. Adjusted for inflation, Ryan’s final haul is north of $300 million. At its current pace, American Sniper should pass that milestone within the next few weeks if not sooner.

Once it accomplishes that feat, the military drama’s next hurdle would be the $370 million earned by 2004’s The Passion Of The Christ. Should American Sniper accomplish that, it would become the highest-grossing R-rated feature of all time (again, not taking inflation into account). Overseas grosses currently stand at $47.5 million.

Last weekend, Universal Pictures took it on the box office chin with the disastrous $4 million opening for its $70 million cyberthriller Blackhat (remember that one?). This weekend the studio can take some solace with the second place opening for The Boy Next Door. The Jason Blum-produced thriller cost a minuscule $4 million to make and returned a solid $15 million from 2,602 theaters.

Reviews were negative for the Jennifer Lopez-starrer (she also served as a producer on the film), but the marketing was effective enough to pull viewers in. The 1.8% bump in Saturday sales however indicate that word-of-mouth wasn’t all that great, which may point to a profitable-but-brief theatrical run for J-Lo’s latest theatrical endeavor.

The news wasn’t as rosy for the other two debuts this weekend, the Johnny Depp comedy Mortdecai and the Disney released, George Lucas-produced animated feature Strange Magic.

Magic, an animated musical feature loosely based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, was in production at Lucasfilm prior to the 2012 company acquisition by Disney and came as part of the purchase. The studio obviously smelled a dud and proceeded to dump the film onto the market with as little fanfare as possible. Judging by the horrible reviews, it’s easy to see why. The Gary Rydstrom directed film featuring the voice talents of Alan Cumming, Evan Rachel Wood, Kristin Chenoweth and Maya Rudolph, could only muster $5.4 million for a seventh-place finish.

The news was even worse for the $60 million comedy Mortdecai, which collapsed in ninth place with a dismal $4.1 million 2,648 theaters. Reviews were as bad as the film’s laugh-free trailers and advertisements. Directed by David Koepp and based on the novel Don’t Point That Thing At Me, Mortdecai stars Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Paul Bettany and Olivia Munn. The terrible opening for Mortdecai is the latest creative and financial misfire for the once-reliable Depp following 2013’s The Lone Ranger and last year’s Transcendence. Lionsgate will have to look to Depp’s last refuge as a movie star, overseas markets, in the hopes of turning a profit.

The critically acclaimed family feature Paddington landed in third place this weekend. The Weinstein Company release was off only 35% from its opening one week ago, a small decrease that suggests strong word-of-mouth among families. The loveable bear earned an estimated $12.3 million from 3,355 screens to bring its ten-day total to $40 million. A $60-65 million final domestic haul is possible. Foreign totals for Paddington currently stand at $130 million.

Rounding out the top five were the Sony release The Wedding Ringer with $11.6 million from 3,003 screens in fourth place and Fox’s Taken 3 with $7.6 million from 2,909 screens. The Kevin Hart comedy’s total currently stands at $39.6 million after two weeks and the Liam Neeson action flick has earned $76 million after three weeks. Wedding should finish between $55-60 million and Taken 3 should close out the popular franchise between $90-95 million.

The remainder of the top was as follows:

  1. The Imitation Game (Weinstein) $7.1 million (+5%); $60.6 million
  1. Selma (Paramount) $5.5 million (-37%); $39.2 million
  1. Into the Woods (Disney) $3.8 million (-43%); $121.4 million

 

Next weekend is Super Bowl weekend, which usually translates into the studios holding back on any new releases of note. As such, the newcomers on the scene starting Friday are Black or White, The Loft and Project Almanac. Watch for American Sniper to not only repeat at the number one spot, it should also gross in its third weekend more than the three newcomers combined and then some.

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