American Sniper took a familiar path to a nationwide release, and it worked well to say the least. The film has been out for a few weeks now, but only in select theaters, letting it be eligible for Oscar nominations for this year, but not go up against other big Christmas releases. So, now that January has rolled around and its name is being talked heavily in Oscar discussions, it released nationwide to the tune of $90.2 million.
In general, January is notorious for being the month where terrible films that have no real chance at being critical successes get released. The epitome of that mentality is the second highest-grossing film of the weekend, The Wedding Ringer. It still managed to bring in $21 million despite poor reviews all around.
Following that was much better received Paddington, the film adaptation of the famous childhood bear in a blue raincoat and red hat. Paddington has been out in the UK since November, where it has grossed $122 million. It adds onto that impressive showing with a $19.3 US opening weekend.
Rounding out the top five was last week’s number one movie, Taken 3, which brought in $14.1 million, and Selma, bringing in $8.3 million. Selma has been in the news recently for its numerous perceived Oscar snubs, bringing to light the issue of potential race bias in the selection committee.
Another debut, Blackhat starring Chris Hemsworth and Viola Davis bombed. Hard. Despite a $70 million budget, the film only brought in $4 million over its debut weekend and is getting poor reviews from critics and fans alike. Don’t worry too much about Hemsworth financial future, however. Along with his role as Thor in the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron he is also rumored to be playing a role in the upcoming Snow White and the Huntsman sequel, Huntsman. I think he’ll be ok.
A couple other movies took a similar route that American Sniper did, by releasing to limited theaters in time for Oscar nominations, but full releases when the awards season was underway. Birdman and Foxcatcher, both big potential Oscar winners, brought in $1.6 million and $1.1 million respectively with big theater increases for both of them. As well, Boyhood had a big showing over the weekend considering it’s been months since it debuted and being released on DVD/Blu-Ray already. It made $243,000 in 136 theaters over the weekend, amid heavy Oscar talks.
For the fourth weekend in a row, American Sniper was the big per-theater winner. This time, though, it was shown in a whopping 3,555 theaters, up from its previous 4 locations. Even still, it brought in $25,374 per-theater. If you’re a fan of absurd percentages, its $90.2 million weekend was a 15,465.5% increase over last week.
Last year at this time saw a trio of less-than-stellar films debut with Ride Along, The Nut Job, and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit all getting their January releases begrudgingly out of the way. Frozen was still printing money with another $11.8 million added to the Disney money pit.