Box Office

Box Office Prognosis: In Which I Try To Understand The Massive Success of American Sniper

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It was a pretty massive weekend at the box office, for one reason only — Clint Eastwood’s American SniperBy now it’s likely you already know the box office success of this film, as it’s literally been the talk of the town all weekend.  And there’s a reason why that’s the case: because it’s a really confusing, really confounding case of a film doing really, really well, and not a lot of reasons existing as to why.

Now let me explain myself: the success of the film itself isn’t that much of a surprise.  Going into the weekend everyone knew it was going to win, and everyone expected it to make a ton of money.  But what makes this win so interesting isn’t so much the film winning the weekend, but how much it won by: a massive, massive, MASSIVE amount.  American Sniper made about $90.5 million over the weekend, and is on track to make $105 million when factoring in today’s holiday gross.  That whole thing is literal insanity to me, and I couldn’t (and still barely can) fathom the massive success of this film.

Once again, I get why it succeeded — it was an easy story to sell, had Oscar backing behind it, star power in front of it, and a massively successful book fueling it.  BUT OVER A HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS in four days?  That was a feat that only TWO films could achieve last year: Transformers: Age of Extinction and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1What American Sniper made over this weekend is more than blockbusters like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, The Lego Movie, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 made on their opening weekends last year, and this is an R-RATED IRAQ WAR DRAMA we are talking about here.


So once again, the question has to be asked: why did this film in particular make so much money in its opening weekend?  And the truth of the matter is, I don’t think I can explain it.  Hell, I don’t think any of the box office pundits can explain it either.  Yes there’s a lot of factors that you can certainly articulate as to why it connected with major audiences and became a success, but as to how it became a blockbuster on the level of The Avengers or Transformers?  I don’t think anyone can really explain that.  Either way, Warner Bros. did something right, apparently, so kudos on them I guess.

Oops, there were other movies in theaters this weekend, weren’t there?  I’m just going to run through them quickly — Kevin Hart’s The Wedding Ringer landed in a far second place with $20.4 million, which ranks as one of his lower debuts (even if it’s still a successful one.)  Paddington got $18.6 million in third place, which is solid for the already huge international blockbuster.  Taken 3 dropped a massive (if expected) 62% to a total of $14.6 million in fourth place, and Selma rounded out the Top 5 with $8.7 million.  That’s only a 22% drop, which hopefully means this film will have strong legs in the weeks to come.


Here’s the chart:

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That’s it — check back next week to see if American Sniper holds up well.  Hint: it definitely will.