NORTH AMERICA: 4-Day Weekend Estimates: 'American Sniper' Rockets Past Expectations with a Massive $105.3M; 'Paddington' a Promising #2 with $25.2M; 'The Wedding Ringer' #3 with $24.5M

on January 17, 2015

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Monday Update:

Warner's American Sniper broke out in a big way this weekend with a massive estimated $105.31 million in its first four 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. With an estimated three-day gross of $89.51 million, American Sniper easily established new opening weekend records for the Martin Luther King holiday weekend and 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 116 percent. 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 $108.73 million through Monday.

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).

With no potential blockbuster performers arriving in the marketplace over the next two weeks, American Sniper is in perfect 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 $10.63 million over the four-day frame, which represented 10.1 percent of the film's overall gross over the holiday weekend.

It was a tight race for second place between Paddington and The Wedding Ringer this weekend. While The Wedding Ringer placed in second over the three-day frame, Paddington moved into second place over the four-day frame.

Paddington took in respective three-day and four-day estimated grosses of $18.97 million and $25.21 million. The family film from The Weinstein Company debuted on the high end of expectations. Paddington opened just 2 percent below the $25.70 million four-day 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. Paddington received an A rating on CinemaScore, which is a promising early sign for the film going forward.

Sony's The Wedding Ringer was off to a respectable start with respective three-day and four-day estimated grosses of $20.6 million and $24.5 million. The modestly budgeted comedy starring Kevin Hart and Josh Gad opened on the low end of pre-release expectations. The Wedding Ringer opened 12 percent below the $27.84 million four-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 with adult moviegoers. The Wedding Ringer received a healthy A- rating on CinemaScore.

On the heels of last weekend's stronger than expected start Fox's Taken 3 was down three spots and a sharp 56 percent to land in fourth place with an estimated $17.4 million over the four-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 $66.19 million in eleven days. That places the film a reasonable 25 percent behind the $87.80 million eleven-day take of 2012's Taken 2. The revised three-day estimate for Taken 3 stands at $14.63 million.

Selma rounded out the weekend's top five with an estimated four-day take of $11.5 million. The Best Picture nominee from Paramount was up a healthy 2 percent over last weekend's three-day performance. The film was helped out this weekend by the Martin Luther King holiday and by its Best Picture nomination. Selma has grossed $29.16 million after eleven 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. The revised three-day estimate for Selma is $8.79 million.

Estimated four-day holiday weekend grosses for other Best Picture nominees included $8.07 million for The Weinstein Company's The Imitation Game (playing in 1,611 locations), $1.84 million for Fox Searchlight's Birdman (playing in 471 locations), $1.19 million for Focus' The Theory of Everything (playing in 509 locations) and $0.44 million for Sony Pictures Classics' Whiplash (playing in 189 locations). Respective current total grosses stand at $51.67 million for The Imitation Game, at $28.57 million for Birdman, at $27.51 million for The Theory of Everything and at $6.67 million for Whiplash.

Meanwhile, Universal's Blackhat was dead on arrival this weekend with an estimated $4.42 million over the four-day frame. The Michael Mann directed film starring Chris Hemsworth debuted in eleventh 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 75.5 percent below the $18.03 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. The revised three-day estimate for Blackhat is $3.8 million.

Sunday Update:

By Daniel Garris

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.

Saturday Update:

By Shawn Robbins

Warner Bros. reports that American Sniper brought in an outstanding $30.5 million on Friday, including $5.3 million from Thursday night shows and $3.1 million from IMAX shows. That easily usurps the previous January opening day record of $17.2 million by 2008's Cloverfield (not to mention director Clint Eastwood's previous best $9.6 million first wide release day by Gran Torino in 2009). Looking at all movies, the previous January record for a single-day gross was held by Avatar ($25.8 million).

Following weeks of stellar box office results ($3.3 million) from just 4 theaters in Los Angeles, New York, and Dallas, Sniper's momentum snowballed through social media power (trending above all films during that time on Twitter and Facebook), strong reviews and word of mouth (particularly surrounding Bradley Cooper's performance as Chris Kyle), and of course, Thursday's Best Picture and Best Actor Oscar nominations.

To further put this opening in perspective, last year's Lone Survivor expanded into wide release with a $14.4 million opening day. Early word of mouth appears strong for Sniper with an 86 percent Rotten Tomatoes audience/Flixster score (on par with Survivor's 85 percent one day after its expansion), while the film also received an excellent "A+" CinemaScore. BoxOffice projects the biopic will take in a stunning $76 million over the 3-day weekend and $89 million for the 4-day Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend. The previous record-holder was last year's Ride Along ($41.5 million/$48.6 million). Higher totals could be in store when all is said and done, but competition from NFL games on Sunday will likely have an impact. With a generally unexpected opening of this size, historical comparisons may be somewhat unreliable.

Also posting a strong debut of its own yesterday was The Wedding Ringer, earning $7.0 million in second place. The latest Kevin Hart comedy from Sony is on track to cover its $23 million production budget by the end of opening weekend, making this yet another win for the comedian's box office drawing power. The film's early RT/Flixster audience score is 78 percent, similar to Ride Along (79 percent). BoxOffice is projecting $20.5 million 3-day and $23.5 million 4-day frames, which would make it the best R-rated comedy opener in January history.

Opening in third place on Friday was The Weinstein Company's Paddington, taking in an excellent $4.7 million and making it the studio's best animated debut in their history (topping Escape from Planet Earth's $3.7 million first day). Based on the popular children's books, Paddington has garnered a fantastic 98 percent Rotten Tomatoes critics' score from over 100 reviews, while the audience score stands at a very encouraging 87 percent this morning. BoxOffice projects $18.7 million for the 3-day frame and $24.8 million over the 4-day. Expect solid legs in the weeks to come as families turn out for the beloved property.

In fourth place yesterday, Taken 3 slipped 71 percent from opening day last week to $4.25 million. The franchise sequel has earned $53 million domestically to-date. Look for a $13.8 million 3-day weekend and $16.5 million 4-day frame.

Selma took fifth place with $2.36 million yesterday, bringing its total to $20 million thus far. BoxOffice projects $8.9 million for the 3-day and $11.8 million for the 4-day.

Meanwhile, The Imitation Game added $1.88 million on its first Friday post-Oscar nominations. The film's total stands at $45.5 million and should earn $7 million and $8.6 million over the 3- and 4-day frames, respectively.

Unfortunately, Blackhat was overshadowed by the slew of new releases as it brought in just $1.4 million yesterday. The timely cybercrime flick is expected to tally $4.1 million for the 3-day and $4.7 million over the 4-day.

Top 10 -- 3-Day / 4-Day Weekend Estimates:

1. American Sniper ($76 million / $89 million)
2. The Wedding Ringer ($20.5 million / $23.5 million)
3. Paddington ($18.7 million / $24.8 million)
4. Taken 3 ($13.8 million / $16.5 million)
5. Selma ($8.9 million / $11.8 million)
6. Into the Woods ($7.7 million / $10.6 million)
7. The Imitation Game ($7.0 million / $8.6 million)
8. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies ($4.9 million / $6.0 million)
9. Unbroken ($4.2 million / $5.0 million)
10. Blackhat ($4.1 million / $4.7 million)

Check BoxOffice on Sunday for official weekend estimates from the studios.

Follow Shawn Robbins and BoxOffice on Twitter

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

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