Box Office: 'American Sniper' Sets Super Bowl Weekend Record

Bradley Cooper in American Sniper

by Pamela McClintock, Rebecca Ford

Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper has scored another record: the biggest Super Bowl weekend gross of all time. Its estimated weekend total of $31.85 million narrowly beats out the previous record of $31.1 million held by 2008’s Hanna Montana/Miley Cyrus: The Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour.

Last weekend, the Oscar-nominated Sniper became the biggest war-themed film of all time, eclipsing the $216.5 million earned by Saving Private Ryan, not accounting for inflation. Now in its third weekend in nationwide release, the film’s new domestic tally is a stunning $248.9 million.

Watch the trailer for American Sniper:

The Bradley Cooper-starring war drama, easily beat out three new films braving a launch despite the NFL championship game: Project Almanac, Black or White and The Loft.

Theater attendance takes a big hit on Super Bowl Sunday, so it’s no surprise that no high-profile titles opened this weekend. Indeed, both Project Almanac and The Loft open after long delays.

But all three newcomers lost second place to holdover Paddington. The family film, now in its third week, earned an estimated $8.5 million.

Project Almanac, a found-footage thriller produced by Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes, fared the best of the newbie trio with a debut of $8.3 for the No. 3 spot this weekend. But that’s less than the $10 million to $12 million hoped for by Paramount Insurge, although the film cost a modest $12 million to make.

Project Almanac, earning a B CinemaScore, follows a brilliant high school student and his friends as they uncover blueprints for a mysterious device that allows them to time travel. Jonny Weston, Sofia Black-D’Elia, Sam Lerner, Allen Evangelista and Virginia Gardner star. It was originally set to open a year ago, but Bay wanted to tinker with the movie.

Black or White, filmmaker Mike Binder’s racially charged drama starring Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer, took the no. 4 spot with a tally of $6.5 million for its domestic debut. The film, which received an A- CinemaScore, hoped to serve as counterprogramming for adults, opening in 1,823 locations this weekend. An estimated 78 percent of its opening weekend audience was over 25 years old.

Relativity acquired U.S. rights to Black or White after its world premiere at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival and is releasing the film — which received a promising A- CinemaScore — in association with IM Global and Sunlight Productions.

Related: Kevin Costner Explains Why He Spent $9 Million of His Own Money to Make ‘Black or White’ (Q&A)

When no studio would make the $9 million film, Costner invested some of his own money in Black or White, which chronicles a bitter custody fight that ensues when a child’s African-American grandmother (Spencer) insists that the child be raised by her son, the girl’s father, and not by Costner’s character, her maternal grandfather.

Universal holdover The Boy Next Door took No. 5 in its second outing with an estimated $6.1 million or more from 2,615 locations.

The Loft, director Erik Van Looy’s English-language remake of his 2008 Dutch film, quickly fell flat this weekend, coming in at No. 10 with a soft $2.9 million. From Dark Castle Entertainment, the thriller was originally supposed to be distributed by Warner Bros. per its deal with Joel Silver’s Dark Castle, but it moved to Universal when Silver pacted with that studio.

However, Open Road films subsequently announced it would release The Loft after Universal pulled the movie from its August 2014 release. The $14 million title, about a group of men who share a loft used for illicit affairs, stars James Marsden and Karl Urban, while Matthias Schoenaerts reprises his role from the original film.

Elsewhere, J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year is making a major expansion this weekend as it expands nationwide, albeit in only 818 theaters. Distributed by A24 Films, the drama is expected to gross $1.5 million for a cume of $2.9 million.

Image credit: AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures