Box Office Report: American Sniper Shocks And Awes At #1, Shatters January Opening

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Far behind in second place over the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend was The Wedding Ringer, which earned a solid $21 million. On one hand, that is only about half of the opening for Ride Along ($41.5 million) during this frame last year. However, with Sniper’s competition, a less formidable co-star in Josh Gad and an R rating, this Kevin Hart comedy was never going to hit the same mark as his 2014 smash. Plus, with a budget of only $23 million, this should earn a good profit for Screen Gems. Regardless, it is a bit below the debuts of 2014 hits Think Like a Man Too ($29.2 million) and About Last Night ($25.6 million). Without many broad comedies hitting the marketplace over the next month, save Mortdecai next weekend, this film could have better legs than usual for a movie with Hart as its headliner.

In third place with respectable results was Paddington, which brought in an estimated $19.3 million worth of families this weekend. With strong critical reviews and an adored character from Michael Bond’s stories about the beloved bear, this was the clear choice for families over the holiday weekend. Good word-of-mouth and minimal competition for families should make this a healthy earner over the next month.

Two holdovers from last weekend rounded out the top five. Taken 3 could not handle Sniper’s monster opening (and mixed word-of-mouth) and dropped a whopping 64% to gross $14.1 million. With a hefty dip this week, the film will likely fail to cross the $100 million mark. With a $62.9 million take in ten days, Liam Neeson’s newest actioner is set to finish with around $85 to $90 million, or slightly less than Non Stop’s $92.2 million total last winter.

Meanwhile, Best Picture nominee Selma held up well, although not as strongly as it probably should have given that it was Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. The film dipped 27% to earn $8.3 million, raising its cume to $26 million. The film could see a jump or tiny drop over Monday, with a holiday that shares its name with Selma’s protagonist, but still, isn’t there some irony that the film to shatter records on this weekend was titled, ahem, American Sniper?

While Clint Eastwood’s latest sizzled, Michael Mann’s newest thriller fizzled at the box office. Blackhat became 2015’s first major flop, finishing in tenth place with $4 million. The film, starring Chris Hemsworth and Viola Davis, could not capture any interest due to poor reviews and hefty competition for adult males. With a reported $70 million budget, this could spell bad news for Mann’s future. Its East Asia setting could make it a decent earner internationally, but it may not be enough to offset its domestic woes.

Here are the numbers for the Top 10 films at the North American box office for the weekend of January 16 through 18, 2015:

1. American Sniper – $90.2 million ($93.6 million total)
2. The Wedding Ringer – $21 million (NEW)
3. Paddington – $19.3 million (NEW)
4. Taken 3 – $14.1 million ($62.8 million total)
5. Selma – $8.3 million ($26 million total)
6. The Imitation Game – $7.2 million ($50.8 million total)
7. Into the Woods – $6.5 million ($114.3 million total)
8. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – $4.9 million ($244.5 million total)
9. Unbroken – $4.3 million ($108.6 million total)
10. Blackhat – $4 million (NEW)

NOTE: These numbers are weekend estimates based on Friday and Saturday’s estimated takes. Actual numbers for the three-day weekend are reported on Monday afternoon.