In a weekend that gave us Jennifer Lopez’s The Boy Next Door where, if the advertisements are any indication, audiences are supposed to root for a statutory rapist, there was little doubt that Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper would repeat in the number one spot for the second week in a row. Adding 150 screens to bring its total count to 3,705, Sniper had an outstanding per-screen average of $17,372 to finish the weekend with an estimated $64.3 million.
What this tells us is that this docudrama of the life of Chris Kyle is a box office juggernaut. Having already set records in limited release, its wide bow one week ago broke January records and netted the best wide debut of an R-rated feature since The Matrix Reloaded. The combination of word-of-mouth advertising by audiences and its Oscar nominations (most notably Best Picture and Best Actor – Bradley Cooper) also helped ensure that its drop in attendance not reach above 28% from its record-setting weekend. Seeing a line of people eagerly awaiting to be seated at an Alamo Drafthouse theater near me, as I exited Taken 3 (more on that later), it was proof that Eastwood’s film is atypical for the usual January performer.
With Sniper‘s dominance, the three new movies in wide release had to contend with holdovers, Academy Award contenders and Liam Neeson. J-Lo’s The Boy Next Door, which looks like the female version of Crush (if anyone remembers that Cary Elwes/Alicia Silverstone movie from the ’90s), finished in second place with a $15M weekend. I avoided any advertising for this movie until curiosity got the better of me a few days before its debut in theaters and I was in awe because the way it is marketed the protagonist is a statutory rapist, but it’s okay because she’s a she and not a guy. J-Lo produced the erotic thriller for $4 million, and it should clear $35-$40 million easy so it’s a hit from Jenny on the Block.
The family feature Paddington continues to be a big hit with families as it added another $12.4M to bring its two-week haul to $40 million. Until the SpongeBob SquarePants movie arrives in a few weeks, this one will be in the top five range. Even after SpongeBob, Paddington should continue to be part of the top ten until the end of February.
As for Liam Neeson, his Taken 3 lost nearly 700 screens and 50% of its audience from one week prior to finish with $7.6M. Nevertheless, the second sequel to the franchise that made audiences realize that Neeson is a badass (apparently they forgot his resume also included being Darkman, Rob Roy, Oskar Schindler, and training Obi-Wan Kenobi and Batman) continues the actor’s string of action hits that also includes Unknown, Non-Stop, and The Grey. Plus in April, he’s got Run All Night, where he plays an aging hitman who becomes embroiled in a blood feud with his boss (Ed Harris) after he kills his son.
The Weinstein Company’s The Imitation Game is getting a modest bump in attendance with expansion. Over the course of nine weeks it has raked in $60.6M, with another $7.1 million coming this past weekend. With Oscar nominations for Picture, Director and Benedict Cumberbatch‘s performance, the WWII period drama shows a different side of the war of Axis and Allied Powers. But aside from the puzzle-solving and code-breaking it is Cumberbatch’s performance as English mathematician Alan Turing that leaves its mark. The film itself is okay, but it’s what Cumberbatch does in the role of Turing that makes it stand out. Audiences who seek out The Imitation Game will understand why.
Selma may have made headlines for being bypassed for a number of big Oscar nominations (most notably for star David Oyelowo and director Ava DuVernay) but that hasn’t stopped its earnings at the box office. In five weeks it has made a shade under $40M, which isn’t bad for a period drama set during the U.S. Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. The drama was wedged in between two new releases, Disney’s animated Strange Magic ($5.53 million), which was developed from a George Lucas story, and Johnny Depp’s Mortdecai, which opened to a paltry $4.1 million on 2,648 screens. For Depp, this is his lowest opener as a lead since 2011’s The Rum Diary debuted with $5.1 million and playing on nearly 400 less screens. Those who continue to insist that Depp is a movie star, I’m going to need some better proof than just playing Captain Jack Sparrow.
In limited release, Jennifer Aniston’s Cake opened on 462 screens and made $1 million. Other newcomers in limited release included Jude Law’s Black Sea ($35k at 5 locations), the Anne Hathaway-starring Song One ($23.8k), Sony Pictures Classics doc Red Army ($20.1k), and IFC’s The Duke of Burgundy ($13k on 3 screens).
And finally, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 overtook Guardians of the Galaxy to become the highest domestic release for 2014. When asked for a comment, Groot remarked, “I am Groot.” I know, Groot, to be overtaken by an Oscar winner moping around for two hours. I don’t get it, either.
Full Top 10 below.
01. American Sniper – $64.36 Million ($200.1M)
02. The Boy Next Door – $15 Million
03. Paddington – $12.39 Million ($40M)
04. The Wedding Ringer – $11.6 Million ($39.6M)
05. Taken 3 – $7.6 Million ($76M)
06. The Imitation Game – $7.1 Million ($60.6M)
07. Strange Magic – $5.53 Million
08. Selma – $5.5 Million ($39.2M)
09. Mortdecai – $4.1 Million
10. Into the Woods – $3.88 Million ($121.5M)
Tags: American Sniper, Ava DuVernay, Benedict Cumberbatch, box office, Bradley Cooper, David Oyelowo, Liam Neeson, mortdecai, Taken 3, The Imitation Game