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Weekend Box Office Report: January 16-18, 2015

01.18.2015

American Sniper is #1 with a bullet!

Audiences were looking for a taste of war this weekend, putting AMERICAN SNIPER at the top of the box office with an estimated $90.2 million!

After an outstanding limited release (it collected $3.4 million since Christmas Day on just four screens), director Clint Eastwood's tense Oscar-nominated biopic fired into more than 3500 locations and gunned down the previous records for biggest January opening day and weekend, with an anticipated $105 million total including tomorrow's Martin Luther King holiday. (Another fact-based wartime action-drama, the Mark Wahlberg-starring LONE SURVIVOR, also found success last January.) It's also the second-biggest R-rated opening, behind THE MATRIX RELOADED.

Aside from his voice work as Rocket in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, which opened to $94.3 million, AMERICAN SNIPER easily marks the biggest opening for actor Bradley Cooper (who also produced the $60 million adaptation of Navy SEAL sharpshooter Chris Kyle's bestselling autobiography). It's also expected to become Eastwood's highest-grossing directorial effort -- GRAN TORINO's $148 million domestic total is the current champ.

Critics hesitantly approved of the jingoism with a 73% average on Rotten Tomatoes, but moviegoers cheered the headshots with an uncommon 'A+' CinemaScore.

Kevin Hart's latest comedy had to settle for second place as his new R-rated THE WEDDING RINGER grabbed $21 million (on a modest $23 million reported budget). Hart's movie would've likely won on a weekend without such ballistic competition, but the opening instead came in below any of his starring roles last year (RIDE ALONG opened to $41.5 over this same weekend in 2014, and THINK LIKE A MAN TOO and ABOUT LAST NIGHT started with $29.2 million and $25.6 million respectively). Hart also got jilted by critics (32% on Rotten Tomatoes), although audiences said "Yes" with a decent 'A-' CinemaScore.

Opening in third place was the family-friendly PADDINGTON with $19.2 million. The PG-rated bear adventure, based on the popular children's books, was a hit with both critics (98% on Rotten Tomatoes) and crowds ('A' CinemaScore), and is already a blockbuster with international audiences.

Dropping to fourth was last weekend's winner TAKEN 3 with $14 million, a 64% plunge from its opening. Liam Neeson's skilled vindicator (who has collected $160 million worldwide) was followed by the (barely) Oscar-nominated Civil Rights drama SELMA with $8.3 million, a drop of just 26% from its first weekend in wide release. Fellow nominee THE IMITATION GAME continued calculating in sixth with another $7.1 million.

December holdovers INTO THE WOODS, THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIES and UNBROKEN filled out the list ahead of director Michael Mann's new cyber-thriller BLACKHAT, which was virtually ignored in tenth place with an opening of $4 million. The $70 million Chris Hemsworth vehicle got shut down by both critics (32% on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences (a dire 'C-' CinemaScore), although actual computer hackers gave it their endorsement.

Outside the chart, ANNIE, NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB, THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2: ANGEL OF DEATH and THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 1 all disappeared, while out of the limited releases, the Julianne Moore Alzheimer's drama STILL ALICE had the best showing with an unmemorable $17k per-screen average.

Next weekend delivers the mustachioed Johnny Depp comedy MORTDECAI, the George Lucas-written computer-animated fantasy STRANGE MAGIC, and the Jennifer Lopez thriller THE BOY NEXT DOOR.

What is your favorite Clint Eastwood movie? VOTE HERE!

# MOVIE TITLE WKND $ TOTAL $
1. American Sniper $90.2 M $93.6 M
2. The Wedding Ringer $21 M
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3. Paddington $19.2 M
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4. Taken 3 $14 M $62.8 M
5. Selma $8.3 M $25.9 M
6. The Imitation Game $7.1 M $50.7 M
7. Into the Woods $6.5 M $114.2 M
8. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies $4.8 M $244.5 M
9. Unbroken $4.2 M $108.6 M
10. Blackhat $4 M
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Source: Box Office Mojo

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