Although critics expected American Sniper to do well in theaters this weekend, most people were surprised at how well it actually did. Directed by Clint Eastwood, American Sniper broke records, taking in an estimated $90.2 million. With this, James Cameron’s Avatar that had the prior record in 2010 of $68.5 was surpassed.
The movie that was nominated for an Oscar broke opening records for raking in $30.5 million, beating out the previous record holder Cloverfield that earned $17.2 million back in 2008. Typically, theaters are slow during the month of January so not only is the new record impressive but especially since it was broken this month.
Clint Eastwood is an exceptional director, having numerous successful films to his credit like Flags of our Fathers but his last two films, Jersey Boys released in 2014 and J Edgar that opened in 2011, did not do well for his standards.
The wide release of American Sniper followed the film receiving six Academy Awards this past week, one for Best Picture. Some critics believe the huge opening weekend might have been spurred by the awards ceremony because people who might not have gone otherwise were intrigued.
After American Sniper, four other films did well in January to include Wedding Ringer with Kevin Hart who took the second place with $21 million. However, compared Ride Along, his film last year, Wedding Ringer only took in about half. Even so, considering this film was up against some other major movies, it did relatively well overall.
Following Wedding Ringer was Paddington, a family-friendly movie about the Paddington bear. This movie took in $19.3 million, which is still considered impressive. Taken 3 also did well and while the film was in the number one spot last weekend, it has not dropped down to number four, having earned roughly $14.1 million. Compared to the opening numbers of $39.2 million, this was a 64% decline.
One additional film worth mentioning is Selma, which was nominated for Best Picture. In its opening weekend, the film earned $11.3 million but this past weekend it was down 26% to $8.3 million. Additional films are being released this weekend that are expected to boost theater sales.