For the third weekend in a row, American Sniper easily secured first place at the domestic box office. But this weekend is not like any other. It’s Super Bowl weekend, which means that Sunday’s receipts are dramatically reduced. Any movie that wants to make a mark on this particular frame either has to be a strong counter-programmer (for the ladies, in other words) or must clean up on Friday and Saturday. It would be a stretch to call American Sniper a chick flick – though the film’s appeal across all adult demographics has been one of its most impressive features. No, American Sniper won the weekend based on another excellent hold, and the fact that audiences seemed completely immune to the three new releases foolish enough to open opposite the year’s biggest movie – and sports event.
After posting $10 million on Friday, American Sniper eared an estimated $31.8 million for the three-day frame: $26.7 million of that on Friday and Saturday alone. That gives the Clint Eastwood drama the highest total ever for a Super Bowl weekend. The previous record was $31.1 million, set by Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: The Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour in 2008. Dear John was another big Super Bowl winner, opening with $30.4 million in 2010. See what I mean about counter-programming? Among films that did not specifically appeal to teen girls, Taken (in 2009) and last year’s Ride Along both took first place on their respective Super Bowl frames.
Aside from Ride Along, which was also enjoying its third consecutive win on this weekend in 2014, all the other big Super Bowl totals were secured on opening weekends. It’s the fact that American Sniper set a new Super Bowl benchmark during its third week in nationwide release that is noteworthy here. The film now ranks sixth on the list of 2014’s top ten highest-grossing releases, surpassing Transformers: Age of Extinction. By next weekend expect American Sniper to overtake Captain America: The Winter Soldier and third place.
Also in its third frame, TWC’s Paddington placed a distant second with $8.5 million this weekend. Though the CGI-animated adaptation has earned just $50.5 million in domestic release, it has nearly tripled that figure overseas – including taking in an impressive $52 million in the UK alone. Paddington’s global total now stands near $197 million.
The first of this weekend’s doleful new releases opened in third place. Project Almanac brought in an estimated $8.5 million from 2,893 locations. That’s less than Chronicle (another teen-friendly sci-fi flick) earned on its first Friday over 2012’s Super Bowl weekend. On the plus side, Project Almanac carries a reported budget of just $12 million. Then again, that was also Chronicle’s budget, and based on this morning’s estimate, Project Almanac doesn’t seem destined to match its predecessor’s domestic total.
Black or White opened in fourth place this weekend. The family drama earned an estimated $6.4 million from 1,823 locations. That tops 2014’s Labor Day, another PG-13 drama that opened opposite the Super Bowl.
And that brings us to The Loft. Even if you weren’t distracted by football this weekend, you would be forgiven for not knowing that this R-rated thriller was in theatres at all. The Loft earned just $2.87 million from 1,841 venues, which ranks as the fourth-lowest total ever for a film opening in 1,800 or more locations. The film, which stars Karl Urban and James Marsden, has also earned a distinctive 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Expect The Loft to drop fast (just like Blackhat) once the two-week commitment of those 1,841 theatres expires.
In one final box office note, the final two episodes of Game of Thrones’ fourth season screened in 205 IMAX locations this weekend, where they earned a reported $1.5 million. That equals a higher per-screen count than any single film in the top 15 aside from American Sniper.
Overall domestic earnings for this Super Bowl frame topped $102 million: 18% higher than last year, when Ride Along led with just $12 million. Next weekend will likely spell the end of American Sniper’s reign, courtesy of The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. The animated feature is expected to open with at least $25 million, which seems more than likely given SpongeBob’s cross-generational appeal. We’ll let you know what happens next weekend.
|4.||Black or White||$6,456,000||$6.4|
|5.||The Boy Next Door||$6,093,000||$24.6|
|6.||The Wedding Ringer||$5,700,000||$48.1|
|7.||The Imitation Game||$5,173,000||$67.95|