'American Sniper' Sets January Opening Weekend Record with a Stunning $90.2M; 'The Wedding Ringer' #2 with $21.0M; 'Paddington' Promising #3 with $19.3M

on January 18, 2015 by Daniel Garris
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Warner's American Sniper broke out this weekend with a massive estimated $90.21 million in its first three days of wide release. The Clint Eastwood directed Best Picture nominee starring Bradley Cooper had clearly been building up major momentum leading up to its wide release and ultimately exploded out of the gate this weekend to a degree that nobody was expecting. American Sniper easily established a new opening weekend record for the month of January as it outpaced the $41.52 million take of previous record holder, last year's Ride Along, by an astounding 117 percent. American Sniper performed 138 percent stronger than the $37.85 million grossed by Lone Survivor in its first weekend of wide release last year. With the addition of a very strong performance in three weeks of platform release (which clearly helped build up buzz for the film), American Sniper has grossed $93.63 million through Sunday. Warner Bros. is estimating a four-day take of $105.2 million for American Sniper.

In a break-out performance of this size, American Sniper clearly appealed to various audience demographics and to moviegoers throughout the country. The audience breakdown for the film skewed towards male moviegoers (57 percent) and towards moviegoers over 25 years of age (63 percent).

American Sniper took in $30.5 million on Friday (which included an estimated $5.3 million from Thursday night shows), increased an impressive 14 percent on Saturday to gross $34.71 million and is estimated to decline 28 percent on Sunday to take in $25.00 million. That places the film's estimated 3-day weekend to Friday ratio at 2.96 to 1. With no potential blockbuster performers arriving in the marketplace the next two weeks, American Sniper is in position to continue to dominate the box office throughout the rest of January. The film received an exceptional A+ rating on CinemaScore.

American Sniper received an added boost from its fairly last-minute IMAX release. IMAX grosses totaled $9.5 million this weekend, which represented 10.5 percent of the film's overall gross over the three-day frame.

While it finished in a very distant second place over the three-day frame, Sony's The Wedding Ringer was off to a respectable estimated start of $21.0 million. The modestly budgeted comedy starring Kevin Hart and Josh Gad opened on the low end of pre-release expectations. The Wedding Ringer opened 18 percent below the $25.65 million three-day start of last year's About Last Night, but will likely hold up better going forward than About Last Night did (due in part to that film being a Valentine's Day release). Potential for The Wedding Ringer was no doubt limited at least somewhat by the breakout performance of American Sniper. BOXOFFICE is currently estimating a four-day take of $24.8 million for The Wedding Ringer.

The Wedding Ringer opened with $7.01 million on Friday, increased 20 percent on Saturday to gross $8.44 million and is estimated to fall 34 percent on Sunday to gross $5.56 million. That places the film's estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio at 3.00 to 1. The Wedding Ringer received a healthy A- rating on CinemaScore.

Paddington finished closely behind in third with an estimated $19.29 million. The family film from The Weinstein Company debuted on the high end of expectations. Paddington opened just 1 percent below the $19.42 million start of The Nut Job over Martin Luther King weekend last year, which was quite respectable given that Paddington didn't have the added advantage of higher priced 3D admissions that The Nut Job and most other family films have. BOXOFFICE is currently estimating a four-day take of $25.8 million for Paddington, which would move the film into second place over the four-day frame.

Paddington opened with $4.66 million on Friday, increased a very strong 80 percent on Saturday to take in $8.36 million and is estimated to decline 25 percent on Sunday to gross $6.27 million. That gives the film an estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio of 4.14 to 1, which signals just how heavily the film is skewing towards family audiences. Paddington received an A rating on CinemaScore, which is a promising early sign for the film going forward.

On the heels of last weekend's stronger than expected start, Fox's Taken 3 was down three spots and a sharp 64 percent to land in fourth place with an estimated $14.05 million over the three-day frame. Audience overlap with American Sniper has clearly led to increased front-loading for Taken 3. The third installment of the Liam Neeson led franchise has grossed $62.84 million in ten days. That places the film 27 percent behind the $86.13 million ten-day take of 2012's Taken 2 (which fell 56 percent in its second weekend of release to gross $21.87 million). BOXOFFICE is currently estimating a four-day gross of $16.5 million for Taken 3.

Selma rounded out the weekend's top five with an estimated three-day take of $8.3 million. The Best Picture nominee from Paramount was down just 27 percent from last weekend. The film was helped out this weekend by the Martin Luther King holiday and by its Best Picture nomination. Selma has grossed $25.96 million after ten days of wide release. While Selma is performing softer than was widely anticipated, the film is still having a respectable run thus far with its modest price tag in mind. Paramount is currently estimating a four-day take of $10.3 million for Selma.

Fellow Best Picture nominee The Imitation Game finished in sixth with an estimated $7.19 million over the three-day frame. The critically acclaimed film from The Weinstein Company was unchanged from last weekend. The Imitation Game surpassed the $50 million mark this weekend and has grossed $50.79 million to date. BOXOFFICE is currently estimating a four-day gross of $8.8 million for The Imitation Game.

Meanwhile, Universal's Blackhat was dead on arrival this weekend with an estimated $4.03 million. The Michael Mann directed film starring Chris Hemsworth debuted in tenth place and opened well below its already modest expectations. The decision to open Blackhat against American Sniper (and one week after Taken 3) always seemed like a puzzling one and Blackhat simply couldn't find an audience this weekend. The film debuted 74 percent below the $15.45 million start of last year's Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Long term prospects for Blackhat are bleak and the film having received a poor C- rating on CinemaScore won't help matters either. Universal is estimating a four-day start of $4.6 million for Blackhat.

4-Day Estimates:

1. American Sniper -- $105.2M *
2. Paddington -- $25.8M **
3. The Wedding Ringer -- $24.8M **
4. Taken 3 -- $16.5M **
5. Selma -- $10.3M *
6. The Imitation Game -- $8.8M **
7. Into the Woods -- $8.39M *
8. The Battle of the Five Armies -- $6.0M **
9. Secret of the Tomb -- $5.2M **
10. Unbroken -- $5.1M *
11. Blackhat -- $4.6M *

* indicates an official studio estimate.
** indicates an estimate from BOXOFFICE.

Tags: American Sniper, The Wedding Ringer, Paddington, Taken 3, Selma, The Imitation Game, Blackhat
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