It was another explosive weekend for American Sniper, which broke the record for the biggest Super Bowl weekend at the box office in its third week of wide release. Earning an estimated $31.9 million, Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-nominated drama continued to steamroll over the competition, including several wide releases that flopped or fizzled this weekend. Even with a strong take, the film dipped a bigger-than-expected 51% in its third frame, a bit worrying given the strong 28% hold that American Sniper has last week.
With an astounding $248.9 million take so far, American Sniper is already the fifth-highest grossing R-rated film of all-time. It is also a few days away from surpassing The Hangover Part II ($254.5 million), which also starred Bradley Cooper, to take fourth place on that chart. (Fun fact: Three of the five highest-grossing R-rated movies of all time in North America have Cooper in the lead role.) Beyond the Super Bowl record, Sniper also blew past its own mark set last weekend for widest release for an R-rated film: it currently plays in 3,885 theaters across the country. While Sniper is still poised to become one of the biggest films of 2014 – an incredible feat for an R-rated Iraq War drama – it needs to have better drops to come close to surpassing The Passion of the Christ ($370.8 million) to be the R-rated champion.
Two films skewing for younger audiences tied for second place this week. Paddington enjoyed its last weekend without major family competition by dropping only 31% to earn $8.5 million. The Weinstein Company was smart to move the kid-friendly adaptation to January from a competitive Christmas Day, as the film has already surpassed the $50 million mark. Even though Spongebob could cause a big drop for Paddington next weekend, it should still find its way to around $65 million in North America and more than $200 million worldwide.
Meanwhile, Paramount probably wishes it could go back in time and market Project Almanac in a more appealing way, as the found footage drama found a smaller audience than expected, also taking in $8.5 million over the Super Bowl weekend. Among other found footage films, that is in the same range as Devil’s Due ($8.3 million), As Above/So Below ($8.6 million) and Apollo 18 ($8.7 million). It was also about the same as Earth to Echo made last summer ($8.3 million), but that sci-fi film had two extra days to burn off demand after a Wednesday opening. Considering Almanac‘s PG-13 rating and intriguing storyline, the film was expected to debut in the teen millions. Its opening was only 39% of what Chronicle ($22 million) earned during its Super Bowl debut in 2012. A B CinemaScore does not indicate a long road ahead.