Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” has already surpassed tracking expectations for the holiday weekend, pulling in a projected $90.2 million in the U.S. and Canada from Friday through Sunday.
The war drama is poised to add about $15 million Monday, raising its total since its limited Christmas Day release to $108.6 million. It is the biggest wide release opening for Eastwood to date.
According to research firm Rentrak, if estimates hold, this will be a record Martin Luther King Jr. weekend at the box office, with an overall projected gross of $240 million through Monday. Year-to-date, the box office is up about 3%.
“American Sniper,” which cost Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow about $58 million to make, is adapted from the Chris Kyle autobiography of the same name. It follows the story of Kyle (Bradley Cooper), a Navy SEAL known as the most lethal sniper in American history.
“Sniper” enjoyed a 14% uptick on Saturday, suggesting it benefited from positive word of mouth. The film also enjoyed some fresh awards buzz. It was nominated for six Academy Awards on Thursday, including best motion picture and lead actor (Cooper). Eastwood also scored a nomination for the Directors Guild of America award for directorial achievement in a feature film.
The movie received a 73% positive rating from critic site Rotten Tomatoes and an A-plus grade from audience polling firm CinemaScore.
Sony’s comedy “The Wedding Ringer” was in second place for the weekend, meeting studio projections with an estimated $21 million. It is projected to add $4 million to that amount by the end of the four-day weekend.
The film follows Doug Harris (Josh Gad), a lovable but awkward groom-to-be without a best man. He hires Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart), whose company provides a flattering best man for the guy in need.
With no other family films in the mix, “Paddington,” released by Weinstein Co., rounded out the top three with $19.3 million.
“Taken 3,” last week’s box-office winner, was in fourth and added about $14.1 million in the Friday-Sunday period. The Liam Neeson film has made about $62.8 million to date.
Paramount Pictures’ “Selma” added $8.3 million in the three-day span, making it fifth overall. It has pulled in about $26 million since its limited Christmas Day release.
Fellow box office newcomer “Blackhat” debuted at No. 10 with a paltry $4 million. Universal Pictures released the Legendary action-thriller, which is directed by Michael Mann and stars Chris Hemsworth.
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