After a weekend like this I can’t help but wonder if Clint Eastwood‘s American Sniper can follow in the footsteps of his Million Dollar Baby and essentially be the last film released in the year and then take home the Best Picture Oscar. After playing in only four theaters the last three weekends to spectacular results, American Sniper went wide this weekend, playing in 3,555 theaters and made a whopping $89.2 million. This is the largest opening for a January movie ever (more than doubling Ride Along‘s $41.5 million), not to mention the largest weekend for a movie in January ever, topping previous record holder Avatar with what is now a puny $68.4 million back in 2010.
To go along with the records and all that money the film is swimming in, it scored an “A+” CinemaScore to accompany its 73% score at RottenTomatoes. I don’t know about you, but this could very quickly become the Oscar narrative if Warner Bros. works their magic. Should it end up taking the Best Picture prize, it would also be the second WB film in a row to win Best Picture without a Best Director nomination… Of course, the narrative wouldn’t nearly be the same, but considering in only one weekend, American Sniper has already made more domestically than the previously highest grossing film among the Best Picture nominees isn’t something to overlook. That previous top film, The Grand Budapest Hotel with only $59.1 million.
This is also Eastwood’s highest opening of all time by a wide margin, besting the $18 million Space Cowboys made in 2000 (or, depending on how you look at it, the $29.5m Gran Torino upon expansion) and it’s also just shy of the record for all-time highest opening for an R-rated movie, coming in just behind Matrix Reloaded‘s $91.8 million. I also think it’s safe to assume this will also beat his previously highest domestic release, which is Gran Torino at $148 million. By the time the four-day weekend is up it will be over $100 million. I’m simply amazed considering the quality of the film.
Before I get to the weekend’s two, more successful new releases, I have to talk the weekend’s new release flop… Michael Mann‘s Blackhat, which brought in only $3.9 million to go along with its “C-” CinemaScore. This is Mann’s worst opening since Manhunter in 1986, back when no one even really knew who he even was. Given the $70 million budget on this one it’s going to be a big loss for the studio.
The best reviewed movie of the new year is the Weinstein’s Paddington and the Peruvian bear managed a decent $18.9 million in its opening weekend to go along with its “A” CinemaScore.
Fairing better this weekend, though perhaps a little under what many expected, was Kevin Hart‘s new comedy The Wedding Ringer, which brought in $20.6 million meaning you’re guaranteed to see new trailers soon enough calling it the “#1 Comedy in the World!” The film landed an “A-” CinemaScore with opening day audiences.
If you’re curious about the Oscar bump following this week’s nominations, Boyhood saw a massive increase of +1,003.4% for a $243,000 weekend, the Marion Cotillard starrer Two Days, One Night climbed 186.8% to $117,000 after her nomination, Whiplash saw a 139.9% bump to $367,000 this weekend, Foxcatcher saw a 84.6% bump and a $980,000 weekend and The Theory of Everything bumped up 44.2% for a $971,399 weekend.
Next weekend sees the release of Mortdecai, Strange Magic and the Jennifer Lopez starrer The Boy Next Door. Interestingly, the latter is the only film studios are screening for critics as I’ve already heard from one person that their Mortdecai screening was cancelled. Here in Seattle they didn’t even bother with an invite to cancel and same goes for Strange Magic. Not a good sign.