“American Sniper” added best Super Bowl weekend ever to its list of box-office records Sunday, claiming its third consecutive weekend win with an estimated $31.8 million.
To do it, the Iraq War saga had to outscore “Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour,” which rang up $31.1 million for Disney in 2008.
The Clint Eastwood-directed “Sniper” starring Bradley Cooper has rewritten the record books since it began a box-office blitz on Jan. 16, one day after it earned six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Actor.
After posting the best wide opening ever for the Martin Luther King holiday weekend and the month of January, “American Sniper” will have rolled up nearly $250 million domestically in 17 days for Village Roadshow and distributor Warner Bros. It’s already passed “Saving Private Ryan” as the highest-grossing war movie ever, and it will be the top-grossing R-rated movie of all time if it can pass the $370.7 million domestic total that Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ” earned in 2004.
The weekend’s three wide openers all finished behind “Paddington,” the holdover family comedy about the British bear from “Harry Potter” producer David Heyman. It was second with $8.7 million in its third week for the Weinstein Company.
The time-travel tale “Project Almanac” followed in third with a disappointing $8.5 million from 2,893 theaters in its debut for Paramount Pictures. “Black or White,” Kevin Costner‘s race relations drama, opened in fourth with $6.4 million from 1,823 theaters for Relativity Studios. And the R-rated thriller “The Loft” wound up tenth, taking in $2.8 million from 1,841 theaters for Open Road Films.
A special run of the hit HBO TV series “Game of Thrones” on 205 Imax theaters brought in an estimated $1.5 million via Warner Bros. The unusual screenings featured last season’s final two episodes and a preview of the April 12 season opener shot on Imax film, and were watched closely by TV executives and exhibitors. The giant screen version of the medieval fantasy averaged $7,300 per-screen, behind the $8,805 that “American Sniper” averaged on the remaining 165 Imax screens.
The overall box office was running roughly 20 percent ahead of last year’s Super Bowl weekend, when “Ride Along” won its third straight with $12 million. Overall, the domestic box office is running more than 9 percent ahead of 2014.
Paramount was hoping for more from “Project Almanac,” which is about a group of teens who build a time machine. The young crowd was the target audience for the film, and around 63 percent of the crowd was under 25. The audience, which was 55 percent male, gave it “B” CinemaScore.
The film’s modest $12 million production budget will take some of the sting out of the soft debut for the studio, Insurge Pictures and producers Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form.
Costner produced and starred in “Black or White,” the PG-13-rated drama about a lawyer battling for custody of his biracial granddaughter. The best news from the first weekend for the film, which co-stars Octavia Spencer, might be the “A-” CinemaScore awarded it by audiences. That should help it in coming weeks, particularly with the older crowd that it played best with.
The audience was 64 percent female and 78 percent over the age of 25. Around 53 percent of the crowd was Caucasian and 30 percent African-American.
“The Loft,” Belgian director Erik Van Looy’s English-language remake of his Dutch thriller, had a zero rating after 18 reviews on aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. The film, starring Karl Urban, James Marsden and Eric Stonestreet of TV’s “Modern Family,” bombed.
The Jennifer Lopez thriller “The Boy Next Door” was fifth with a $6 million second week for Universal Pictures. That’s a nearly 60 percent fall from its opening weekend but still puts its domestic total at nearly $25 million, not bad given its $4 million production budget.
The Kevin Hart-Josh Gad comedy “The Wedding Ringer” followed with $5.7 million and is up to $48 million after three weeks for Sony’s Screen Gems.
Things got a little better in the second week for “Strange Magic,” the animated musical produced by “Star Wars” creator George Lucas that tanked in its debut last weekend. It’s on pace to take in $3.4 million for the three days, a 38 percent drop that gives it a $9.9 million domestic total.
The same can’t be said for Johnny Depp’s “Mortdecai.”
The ensemble comedy tumbled out of the top ten and brought in an anemic $1.4 million for the weekend, a steep 66 percent drop from its disastrous debut last weekend. That leaves its domestic total at less than $7 million for Lionsgate Entertainment, not good for a movie with a $40 million production budget.
“The Imitation Game” took in $5.2 million and finished seventh after Weinstein added 377 locations to give the Benedict Cumberbatch historical drama its highest theater total yet, at 2,402.
Its domestic total is nearly $68 million after 10 weeks. Other than “American Sniper,” that’s the best of any Best Picture Oscar contender.