Bradley Cooper in American Sniper
By Pamela McClintock
Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper remained a phenomenon in its second weekend, earning a stunning $64.4 million and quickly becoming the No. 2 war film of all time at the North American box office, not accounting for inflation. Its domestic total through Monday is $200.1 million for Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow.
Watch the American Sniper trailer:
In only 10 days in release, American Sniper has eclipsed the $198.5 million earned by Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor, and it will soon overtake the $216.5 million grossed by Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan in 1998. Taking inflation into account, Private Ryan would earned more than $300 million by today’s terms; Sniper is sure to eclipse that number when all is said and done.
American Sniper fell just 28 percent in its second weekend — the best hold ever for a movie opening to more than $85 million. The film’s ongoing strength underscores its appeal in Middle America and the boost it’s getting elsewhere from scoring six Oscar nominations, including best picture and best actor (Bradley Cooper).
At the other end of the spectrum, Johnny Depp’s newest film, Mortdecai, tanked in its domestic launch, earning an estimated $4.1 million, the actor’s worst opening in the post-Pirates era. Moreover, it’s his third big-budget dud after Transcendence and The Lone Ranger (he does have a small role in box-office win Into the Woods, now in theaters), and is his lowest nationwide launch since The Astronaut’s Wife ($4 million) 15 years ago. Mortdecai earned a dismal C+ CinemaScore.
Lionsgate and OddLot Entertainment had high hopes for the $60 million movie, directed byDavid Koepp and starring Depp as a debonair art dealer and part-time rogue who races to recover a stolen painting rumored to contain the code to a lost bank account filled with Nazi gold. Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Olivia Munn, Jeff Goldblum and Paul Bettany also star in the film adaptation of Kyril Bonfiglioli’s novel Don’t Point That Thing at Me.
In more bad news, Mortdecai also fell flat overseas, where Depp has remained a bigger draw. The movie grossed just $5.2 million from 33 territories. Germany led with $1.2 million.
Domestically, Depp lost handily to an unlikely competitor — Jennifer Lopez, whose The Boy Next Door opened to solid $15 million to place No. 2. Ryan Guzman co-stars in the psychological thriller, which received a B+ CinemaScore and was fueled by Hispanics (45 percent).
Rated R, The Boy Next Door is the latest title from Universal’s deal with Jason Blum’s Blumhouse. Directed by Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious), the $4 million film explores what happens when forbidden attraction goes too far.
Also opening this weekend was the George Lucas-produced Strange Magic, an animated family film that’s grossed a disappointing $5.5 million launch for a seventh-place finish. It received a B- CinemaScore.
From a story by Lucas, Strange Magic is an animated romp set in a whimsical land of potions, goblins and fairies that’s loosely inspired by William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The movie was already in the works when Disney swooped in and bought Lucasfilm in 2012, but Strange Magic as kept on the QT until last fall, when Disney announced a Jan. 23 release. The voice cast includes Evan Rachel Wood, Alan Cumming, Kristin Chenoweth, Maya Rudolph, Sam Palladio, Meredith Anne Bull, Alfred Molina and Elijah Kelley, who sing new versions of pop and classic rock songs.
Back in the top 10, British family film Paddington remained the family offering of choice ahead of Strange Magic and placed No. 3 with $12.4 million, falling only 35 percent. The movie, distributed by The Weinstein Co. in the U.S., has now grossed a better-than-expected $40.1 million domestically.
Kevin Hart and Josh Gad’s The Wedding Ringer fell 44 percent in its second outing with $11.6 million for a domestic total of $39.7 million. Screen Gems made the R-rated comedy for a relatively modest $23 million.
In its third weekend, Taken 3 rounded out the top five with $7.6 million for a sturdy North American total of $76 million for Fox and EuropaCorp.
Like American Sniper, Harvey Weinstein’s Oscar best-picture contender The Imitation Game continues to see the biggest gains after landing a number of top nominations. The British drama, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, earned $7.1 million has it expanded into a total of 2,025 theaters for a domestic cume of $60.6 million — overtaking The Grand Budapest Hotel ($57 million) to become the top-grossing indie film released in 2014 (the film first debuted in select theaters over Thanksgiving ).
Among other specialty offerings, Jennifer Aniston’s Cake made a muted showing as it launched in 482 theaters, earning an estimated $1 million for a screen average of just $2,074. Usually, indie films open in far fewer theaters in hopes of building word of mouth, but distributor Cinelou opted for a larger footprint.
Kevin Macdonald’s submarine action-thriller Black Sea opened in five locations, earning a muted $35,000 for a screen average of $7,000. Jude Law stars in the film, distributed by Focus Features.
Image credit: AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures, Keith Bernstein