Friday Box Office: AMERICAN SNIPER Eyes Third Straight Win Over Super Bowl Weekend

     January 31, 2015

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The hits keep coming for American Sniper.  Following its record-setting debut with an equally stunning sophomore hold last weekend (down just 27% with $64.6 million), the Clint Eastwood drama is now poised to dominate that most-American of box office frames: Super Bowl weekend.

American Sniper is expected to bring in another $32 million in its third weekend in wide release.  That would establish a new all-time high for the Super Bowl frame.  The current record belongs to Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: The Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour, which opened to $31.1 million in 2008.  To be clear, Miley will still retain the crown for biggest Super Bowl opening; but the fact that American Sniper has a clear shot at beating that total as a holdover just underscores how massive this movie has become.

American Sniper took in an estimated $10 million yesterday from 3,885 locations – an increase of 180 venues from last weekend.  That’s the widest release ever for an R-rated film, the previous high being 3,675 for 2011’s The Hangover Part II.  By Sunday, Sniper should be close to $250 million in domestic sales: the same range that The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies now occupies.  It’s clear that American Sniper will eventually top $300 million, which means that it will also rank among the top three domestic titles of 2014, thanks to that two-week limited run in December.

project-almanac-posterFor the second Friday in a row, new releases had a hard time withstanding the force of American SniperProject Almanac proved strongest of Friday’s new titles, earning an estimated $3.2 million from 2,893 locations.  The found footage sci-fi pic was expected to open with at least $15 million – a good start for a movie budgeted at just $12 million.  Unfortunately, Almanac’s forecast was based on a much-stronger showing on Friday – the critical day during the front-loaded Super Bowl frame.  Project Almanac will now be lucky to reach $10 million through Sunday.

The weekend’s two remaining new releases are not likely to reach $10 million even if their opening totals were combined.  Black or White, a family drama starring Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer, collected $2.2 million on Friday from 1,823 locations.  Meanwhile, The Loft, the R-rated thriller from Open Road Films (the distributor of Nightcrawler and The Grey, among others) brought in just $1.1 million from 1,841 venues.  That puts The Loft on track for a debut of less than $3 million – lower than any of Open Road’s previous wide releases save Believe, Justin Bieber’s ill-conceived 2013 concert film.

We’ll have complete details on 2015’s Super Bowl box office tomorrow – ‘cause we’ve got no place else we’d rather be.  Until then, here’s how Friday’s top five played out:

 Title Friday Total
1.  American Sniper $10,015,000 $227.1
2.  Project Almanac $3,200,000 $3.2
3.  Black or White $2,270,000 $2.27
4.  The Boy Next Door $2,100,000 $20.7
5.  Paddington $1,938,000 $44

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