‘American Sniper’ Shoots Past $100 Million at Overseas Box Office

US military movies are typically a tough sell abroad but Iraq War saga is at $428 million globally for Warner Bros.

Last Updated: February 22, 2015 @ 1:05 PM

The Clint Eastwood-directed “American Sniper,” already the highest-grossing war movie domestically, surpassed the $100 million mark at the overseas box office this weekend.

That’s significant achievement for a film about the U.S. military, which is typically more lightning rod than movie star in many foreign countries.

The $108 million overseas haul, coupled with its $320 million domestic take, raised the global total for the Iraq War saga starring Bradley Cooper to $428 million for Warner Bros.

The merits of “American Sniper” are clear, and it’s going into Sunday’s Academy Awards with nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor (Cooper), Best Adapted Screenplay (Jason Dean Hall) among its six. But there are several reasons it’s doing better than other recent American movies about the Middle East wars.

One is simply the passage of time, as foreign and American moviegoers grow less emotional about the wars.

The surging popularity of three-time Oscar nominee Cooper helps, as does the popularity of Eastwood in Europe. Italy, rarely a box-office hot bed, has delivered $23 million and is the No. 1 foreign territory, ahead of the U.K. ($19.6 million)and Australia (14.1 million).

It’s been 50 years, but Eastwood is still beloved by many film fans there, who remember him starring in the 1960s “spaghetti Westerns” of Italian filmmaker Sergio Leone like “A Fistful of Dollars.”

The tone and tenor of the film, which concerns war’s toll as much as its execution, help provide a universal message on the impact of armed conflict on those who fight and their families.

The overseas campaign, led by president of international distribution Veronika Kwan, got off to a good start abroad by scoring with US allies. It had made $26 million in the U.K., New Zealand, South Korea and Taiwan before expanding overseas.