'American Sniper' leads Friday box office

'American Sniper' leads Friday box office
Bradley Cooper in "American Sniper." (Keith Bernstein / Warner Bros.)

True to projections, Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” led the box office race, shooting far past other new releases including the Kevin Hart comedy “The Wedding Ringer” and family film “Paddington.”

The Iraq War drama, which received six Oscar nominations Thursday morning, pulled in an estimated $30.5 million, adding to its already impressive $240,212 from a limited release debut over Christmas weekend from just four theaters in Los Angeles, New York and Dallas.

Adapted from the autobiography of the same name, “American Sniper” is the real-life story of the late Chris Kyle (played by Bradley Cooper), the Navy SEAL who was known as the most lethal sniper in American history. The film, which cost Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow about $58 million to make, rolled out in 3,555 screens across the U.S., bringing in more than $8,500 per screen.

Ticket-selling websites Fandango and Movietickets.com both reported that the film was their biggest ticket-seller this weekend. It received a 73% fresh rating from critic site Rotten Tomatoes and an A+ grade from audience polling firm CinemaScore.

In second place was "The Wedding Ringer," which grossed $7 million in 3,003 locations Friday. The film,  starring Hart as a best man for hire, is projected to pull in an estimated $24 million over the holiday weekend, passing its budget of $23 million in just four days.

Closing out the top five are Weinstein Co.’s “Paddington” with $4.7 million, last weekend’s leader “Taken 3” with $4.3 million, and the Oscar-nominated civil rights drama “Selma,” which made an estimated $2.4 million.

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