Monday, January 19, 2015

'American Sniper' stuns with $105.3 million four-day debut, while 'Blackhat' bombs at weekend box office

Well, I think it's safe to say that nobody saw this coming. While I knew that American Sniper was going to be a successful film and a pretty big hit, I definitely did not anticipate the blockbuster numbers that it achieved this weekend. The Oscar-nominated war film grossed $105.3 million over the four-day MLK weekend. Those are staggering numbers for a war film and by far the highest January opening of all time and the biggest Winter opening ever. American Sniper's $89.5 million 3-day opening weekend is also the second-highest for an R-rated feature in history, only behind The Matrix Reloaded. American Sniper is now on track to become one of 2014's biggest films, with an opening weekend comparable to films like Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The war drama also received an "A+" Cinemascore, which means that word of mouth is going to be through the roof.

There's a lot to take away from this opening. And there are lots of questions as well. Why was American Sniper such a massive success? What differentiated the film from Lone Survivor or other recent patriotic flicks? In my opinion, a lot of it had to do with marketing. As many critics and bloggers have noted, American Sniper had one of the best trailers in recent memory and a marketing campaign that continued to impress throughout the year. But the film was also rather timely, as terror attacks have struck Europe (Charlie Hebdo) and America (Sony hack) in recent weeks. All in all, Sniper is a smashing success and it will gross nearly $300 million at the box office and possibly win some awards in the process.

In a distant second place was Paddington, which grossed $25.2 million over the four-day frame. The British drama snagged an "A" Cinemascore, the standard rating for a kids flick. However, the film does face some competition from Strange Magic next week, but frankly, I'm not sure many people actually know what that movie even is (I personally know very little about it). Paddington should continue to pull in strong grosses for the next few weeks until The Spongebob Movie takes over in early February.

Kevin Hart had another impressive opening this weekend with The Wedding Ringer, which pulled in $24.5 million. The comedy only cost $23 million to produce, so Sony has made back their budget on this one already. The film also received a relatively solid "A-" Cinemascore. With relatively low competition in the comedy market, The Wedding Ringer should continue to do solid business for the rest of the month.

Taken 3 finished in fourth place with $17.5 million, a 55% drop from last weekend. The atrocious Liam Neeson actioner has now made $66.1 million, which is appalling to me. How can a movie that is so bad make so much money? But I digress. The film should go on to make $100 million at the most. In fifth place was Selma, which saw a slight bump this weekend thanks to the MLK holiday. The biopic snagged $11.5 million over the holiday and has now grossed $29.1 million. Not blockbuster numbers, but not terrible for a film that only cost $20 million to produce. With Oscar buzz, this one should do just fine.

Into the Woods continued to do well, making $8.6 million in sixth place. The musical has now grossed $116.4 million and will wrap up its run with around $140 million. In seventh place was The Imitation Game which saw a pretty solid Oscar bump this weekend. The film pulled in another $8 million and has grossed a total of $51.6 million. The Imitation Game is on track for $100 million at this point.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies continued to slide down the box office ranks, making $6 million in eighth place. The final installment in Peter Jackson's trilogy has now made $245.6 million. In ninth place was Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, which grossed $5 million. The film has now made a relatively impressive $106 million total. And finally, Unbroken rounded out the top ten with $4.4 million. The film has made $109.2 million so far and will likely finish up its run in the near future.

Blackhat, Universal's $70 million Michael Mann thriller, was noticeably missing from the top ten. It finished in eleventh place with $4.4 million and a "C-" Cinemascore. That is one massive bomb from Universal, a studio that has been on a roll for the past few months. Hopefully the film's Chinese appeal is able to help it bounce back overseas, because this is a major bomb in the US.

Next weekend sees the release of Mortdecai, The Boy Next Door and Strange Magic. Here are my predictions:

1. American Sniper- $55 million
2. Paddington- $14.5 million
3. Mortdecai- $12.4 million
4. The Boy Next Door- $11 million
5, The Wedding Ringer- $10.9 million
6. Strange Magic- $8.1 million
7. Taken 3- $7.8 million
8. Selma- $7.5 million
9. The Imitation Game- $7.5 million
10. Into the Woods- $7 million

Image Credits: Apple Trailers, Screen Rant

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