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Along with August, January is seen by many as being one of the worst months in the calendar year for movies - but just like Guardians of the Galaxy did last summer, American Sniper is doing its part to change its release date's profile. After all, the film has already made more than $100 million in its first four days in wide release.
Box Office Mojo has the latest numbers for the new Clint Eastwood film, and they are honestly jaw dropping. Since expanding to 3,555 theaters nationwide on Friday, American Sniper has managed to pull in an amazing $105 million. This is nearly four times more than both Paddington and The Wedding Ringer, which have come in second and third place during this Martin Luther King Day holiday weekend with takes of $25,2 million and $24.5 million, respectively.
As though American Sniper's numbers weren't ridiculous enough just in the context of its weekend competition, they are even crazier when compared to Clint Eastwood's track record as a director. Despite having only been in wide release for less than a week, the film is already Eastwood's second highest grossing film of all time - sitting behind only 2008's Gran Torino. That being said, Gran Torino was in theaters for a total of 27 weeks and managed to make $148 domestically. If American Sniper only makes half of this past weekend's tally next week, it will already be considered the biggest hit of the filmmaker's career. These rankings obviously change a bit when you factor in inflation, but one still has to be amazed at the new film's success.
So what exactly is it that's driving this success? As you might imagine, it can be seen as a result of a number of factors. It's true that professional critics didn't go gaga over it - as the movie currently stands on Rotten Tomatoes with a 73% - but audiences are absolutely loving it and have given the film an A+ CinemaScore. That word of mouth is obviously going to mean something. One also can't discount the impact of last week's Academy Award nominations - which saw American Sniper get nods for Best Picture, Best Actor (Bradley Cooper), Best Adapted Screenplay, and more - or the fact that the movie has stirred up a bit of a controversy over the last few days. It's hard to say which has made the biggest impact of all, but it's really all come together in a perfect storm of success.
Similar to how Guardians of the Galaxy managed to completely own the waning days of summer last year without any real competition hitting theaters, it will be interesting to see how long American Sniper can keep up its powerful performance. There isn't anything really huge on its way to theaters until February, so it's entirely possible that the movie could wind up topping the box office for multiple weeks in a row. The results of its second weekend in wide release will definitely be interesting to analyze.