Weekend Box Office: ‘Sniper’ Picks Off the Competition

It was never in question that the wide expansion of Clint Eastwood’s new Oscar nominee would push the film up to the top of the box office charts this weekend, but no one could have predicted the record-busting business that it would bring in.

Last year, ‘Ride Along‘ set a record for the highest-grossing January debut with a $41.5 million opening. However, it only held that title for one year, and it’s unlikely that any other January release will beat the new record that ‘American Sniper‘ just set. Climbing from 4 screens to 3,555, the Oscar-nominated wartime bio-pic pulled in $90.2 million, instantly becoming the highest-grossing film in this year’s Best Picture category. $11.5 million of that came from IMAX showings, making ‘American Sniper’ the best-opening R-rated title ever for the premium screen format. Although only playing in a handful of notable foreign markets, the film is proving to be an international powerhouse as well. It earned $25.3 million overseas, placing its worldwide total at $118.9 million.

Coming in at a very distant second place was the Josh Gad/Kevin Hart comedy ‘The Wedding Ringer‘, which grossed $21 million from 3,003 locations. That’s down considerably from Hart’s aforementioned ‘Ride Along’. With theatrical trailers that paint Gad as the lead and Hart as the co-star, but TV spots that portray Hart as the leading man, it’s no wonder why the totals aren’t up to par. Although the unfocused marketing campaign may have caused confusion, that $21 million opening isn’t too bad considering that the comedy was produced for just $23 million. Estimates place ‘The Wedding Ringer’ closing north of $50 million.

Third place went to an animated Peruvian bear living in live-action London – ‘Paddington‘. Although the family film is just now hitting U.S. soil, it has played overseas since November. Since then, the PG comedy has earned $122.1 million. While the movie’s domestic debut wasn’t huge, the $19.2 million opening and positive word-of-mouth place it on track to close north of $70 million.

Taken 3‘ slipped from first place to fourth in its second weekend. While the drop isn’t abnormal considering that the sequel opened against stiff competition from several new releases, the dip in attendance was brutal. The Liam Neeson action thriller slid 64% to $14 million. After ten days, ‘Taken 3’ has totaled $62.8 million, but is likely to fade away quickly now.

Due to fantastic reviews, Oscar nominations and the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, ‘Selma‘ only declined 26% in the second week of its nationwide run. An additional $8.3 million landed the film in the #5 spot and placed its domestic run at $25.9 million.

This deep into the box office post, you’re probably wondering where the Chris Hemsworth cyber thriller ‘Blackhat‘ finished. Shredded by critics and audiences alike, the Michael Mann-directed picture only scraped by with $4 million, which is barely enough to land in the #10 spot. ‘American Sniper’ presumably stole away a lot of its potential audience. Some estimates place ‘Blackhat’ as bowing with less than $10 million.

After winning the Golden Globe for Best Actress, Sony Pictures Classics made a small-but-wise 12-screen push for Julianne Moore’s ‘Still Alice‘. This weekend brought in $212,000, which gave it a very nice $17,667 per-screen average start. With buzz and acclaim surrounding the movie, those numbers are sure to go up.

Top 10:

1. ‘American Sniper’ (Warner Bros.) – $90,205,000

2. ‘The Wedding Ringer’ (Screen Gems) – $21,000,000

3. ‘Paddington’ (Weinstein/Dimension) – $19,287,000

4. ‘Taken 3’ (Fox) – $14,050,000

5. ‘Selma’ (Paramount) – $8,300,000

6. ‘The Imitation Game’ (Weinstein) – $7,192,000

7. ‘Into the Woods’ (Buena Vista) – $6,542,000

8. ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ (Warner Bros.) – $4,860,000

9. ‘Unbroken’ (Universal) – $4,267,000

10. ‘Blackhat’ (Universal) – $4,030,000


  1. Chris B

    Holy Blackhat with a Blackeye Batman! How much was is the estimated budget for that movie? How much does the studio stand to lose?

      • — and they marketed the living hell out of this thing! Banners were all over IMDB for weeks and you couldn’t get through a commercial break during the two weeks leading up to its release without seeing a 30-second spot for it.

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