• Industry

World Box Office Jan 12-18

Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper’s American Sniper hit the U.S. market between the eyes with an astonishing $105.3 million take in its nationwide expansion over the weekend. Even after three weeks of averaging over $100 thousand per screen in a handful of LA and New York theaters, Sniper’s mainstream success came as a shock to many. Not last Warner Brothers, whose $60 million production found traction from coast-to-coast and everywhere in between, hitting all demographic segments and transcending politics and different viewpoints about the Iraq war. Projections envisioned an opening closer to $40 million but strong buzz about the films stark portrayal of the life and death of Navy Seal Chris Kyle, one of America’s deadliest soldiers, transformed this mid-budget drama into an out and out blockbuster. Perhaps because even though it is based on a real person, it played like a superhero fantasy movie.
Its superlative launch places Sniper as the biggest MLK weekend release to date, more than doubling the $48.5 million record previously held by last January’s hit comedy Ride Along. Its 3-day take of $90.5 million was second only to the Matrix Reloaded’s $91 million launch for an R-rated film, and the most successful opening ever, in front of or behind the camera, for Clint Eastwood whose previous weekend record was the $29.5 million wide release opening for 2008’s Gran Torino. At 84, Clint still got it…  It is now on pace to upend records for the month of January, pulling in roughly $105 million over the four-day period.
Sniper’s results in its six new territories this frame may seem a bit disappointing after its incredible domestic run and similarly impressive Italian debut three weeks ago. In the UK, it finished behind Taken 3 with a $3.6 million haul, while in South Korea it added $1.2 million. It was first in Taiwan with $1.05 million, a personal best for Eastwood. In Italy it fell into second with $2.8 million and reached an $18.8 million cumulative. With possibilities of an Oscar for Best Picture and Best Actor in February and a handful of key openings in the coming weeks, this film could easily become an even more astounding hit than it already is. Other Academy Awards nominees that did well in the past few days include Birdman, which added $4.3 million in a few new markets including Australia, Spain  and the UK. Boyhood also got a nomination bump: fueled by six nods, it saw its take double for a total of $21.6M. The Theory Of Everything with five new nominations, added $8 million domestically and nine more territories. And then there is The Imitation Game, with eight nominations, that has passed the $100 million mark, split approximately 50/50 between the North American market and those overseas, where it just added Belgium and Sweden while still going strong in France, Germany and Russia.
Taken 3 reached $100 million, but that is just from overseas where it solidly outperformed Taken 2. Liam Neeson’s angry father added also over $31 million domestically. In the meantime The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies keeps marching on. It has grossed $ 800 million so far and with China about to open next weekend the $1 billion mark is now almost a mathematical certainty. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb has now a cumulative gross of $180 million, pretty much the same amount generated so far by Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods And Kings.
Back in domestic territory, Kevin Hart may not be an American hero like Eastwood’s Sniper but he is continuing to establish himself as one of the country’s favorite comedians. After finding success with recent hits Ride Along and Think Like a Man (1&2), Hart kept the train rolling with this weekend’s $21 million launch of The Wedding Ringer the biggest yet for an R-rated comedy in January. It might have fared better in a clearer frame but this isn’t bad at all considering the competition. At the other end of the spectrum things were definitely not as rosy for Michael Mann’s Blackhat. It earned just $4.6 million, a pretty dismal number for a $70 million production.
Lorenzo Soria