'American Sniper' again dominates box office; 'Mortdecai' flops

@AmericanSniper adds $64.4 million, crosses $200-million mark at domestic #boxoffice

“American Sniper” held down its No. 1 spot and crossed the $200-million mark at the domestic box office this weekend, surpassing all three newcomers including the Johnny Depp film "Mortdecai," which proved to be a dud.

Propelled by a strong Friday night, "American Sniper" added an estimated $64.4 million in the U.S. and Canada in its second weekend in wide release, raising its cumulative domestic total to $200.1 million. The film's weekend ticket sales fell just 28%, making it one of the best holds for such a high-grossing movie.

"American Sniper" had the third-highest-grossing January weekend ever, behind only the $68.5 million third-weekend haul for “Avatar” in January 2010 and the first weekend of wide release for "Sniper."

The Clint Eastwood-directed war drama, which shattered several box-office records and surpassed tracking expectations over the busy four-day Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, cost Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow about $58 million to make. Adapted from the Chris Kyle autobiography of the same name, the film follows the story of Kyle (Bradley Cooper), a Navy SEAL known as the most lethal sniper in American history.

With its six Academy Award nominations, including best picture, the film has generated buzz among critics and audiences. It received a 73% positive rating from review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes and an A-plus grade from audience polling firm CinemaScore.

Coming in at second for the weekend: "The Boy Next Door," which met expectations with a solid $15 million debut.

The psychological thriller follows Claire Peterson (Jennifer Lopez), a teacher who is seduced by teenager Noah (Ryan Guzman). Made for just $4 million, it is the latest micro-budget collaboration from Universal and Blumhouse Productions, following "The Purge" franchise and "Ouija."

The film made "almost four times the $4-million budget in the first weekend,” said Nicholas Carpou, Universal’s head of domestic distribution. “It’s great for us.”

As tracking suggested, "The Boy Next Door" played strongly with women and Latinos. An estimated 45% of moviegoers were Latino and 71% were female. About 60% of audiences were 25 or older.

According to Universal’s exit polls, 71% of the audience said Lopez was the main reason for seeing the film. Though the film received poor reviews and a B-minus rating from CinemaScore, Carpou said the studio is confident the film will continue to draw in audiences in the coming weeks.

Its strong female appeal will provide “excellent counter-programming,” especially with the upcoming Super Bowl, he said.

In third place for the weekend was Weinstein Co.’s family film “Paddington,” which added $12.4 million to its total $40.1-million domestic haul.

The movie is based on the popular English children’s literature character Paddington Bear, created by Michael Bond. It stars Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Nicole Kidman and Ben Whishaw (who voices Paddington).

Weinstein Co. bought domestic rights for the film, which cost about $55 million to make, from StudioCanal.

Kevin Hart’s “The Wedding Ringer” finished in fourth with $11.6 million. The Sony comedy has made $39.7 million in the U.S. and Canada.

Liam Neeson’s “Taken 3” rounded out the top five with $7.6 million. The thriller’s haul to date is $76.1 million.

Family film "Strange Magic" fell short of its $10-million tracking forecast, launching in seventh with $5.5-million. The computer-animated film, which earned a B-minus grade on CinemaScore, is produced by Lucasfilm and distributed by Walt Disney Co. The voice cast for the goblin and elves film includes Kristen Chenoweth, Maya Rudolph and Evan Rachel Wood.

Meanwhile, fellow newcomer “Mortdecai" barely broke into the top 10. The Johnny Depp-led film finished in ninth with a $4.1-million debut despite the Lionsgate-OddLot Entertainment release's star power.

Depp stars as the quirky art dealer and part-time rogue Charlie Mortdecai, who tries to recover a stolen painting. The film, based on the 1970s Kyril Bonfiglioli comic novels, co-stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor and Olivia Munn.

The film received a generally poor reception from critics and a C-plus audience grade from CinemaScore.

Depp's latest films have been box-office duds. "Transcendence" premiered to a meager $11.2 million in April. "The Lone Ranger" famously tanked with a weak opening of $48.9 million in July of 2013.

Leading up to the release, Lionsgate conducted a six-month Twitter campaign using the handle "@PartTimeRogue." The marketing campaign also included 20 national broadcast and talk show appearances and a national promotional campaign celebrating Mortdecai's mustache with the Art of Shaving.

In limited release, the Jennifer Aniston-led film “Cake” opened to $1 million in 482 locations, a per-screen average of $2,074.

The Jude Law film “Black Sea” debuted to $35,000 in five locations, or a per-screen average of $7,000.

For more news on the entertainment industry, follow me @saba_h

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