Brow Beat

American Sniper Breaks the Box Office, Aims for $100 Million Weekend

Bradley Cooper takes aim in American Sniper.

© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc

American Sniper, Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-nominated biopic about Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S. history, has, to put it lightly, been having a bonkers box-office weekend. The movie entered wide release on Friday, and distributor Warner Bros. reports that it’s at an unprecedented $90.2 million take as of Sunday. That’s enough for the biggest January opening weekend ever, and ticket sales could plausibly top $100 million by Monday.

Over at Forbes, Scott Mendelson has an insightful box-office breakdown that puts Sniper’s achievement into perspective. According to Mendelson, the movie had the largest opening day for a straight drama—if you consider it as such—in history; it’s $30.5 million Friday take was more than any Eastwood-directed film has made in an entire weekend. It’s broken a bounty of January records: besides biggest debut weekend (over Kevin Hart’s Ride Along), it’s claimed biggest opening day (over Cloverfield) and best four-day opening for an R-rated film. And the film it beat for best single-day January sales? Avatar, the highest-grossing movie in history.

So why the massive moolah? A combination of things—the film is buoyed by six Oscar nominations; it centers on a nationalistic, politically-charged subject that caters to heartland audiences; Eastwood is a nationally-renowned director and constant draw. Any and all of these factors could be relevant, but it’s fair to say that critiques regarding the film’s accuracy—claims similar to the ones levied against Selma—don’t seem to be affecting commercial reception.