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You may remember back in late January when we reported that The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 had taken over the top spot as Hollywood's biggest domestic hit of 2014. At that time, we were fairly certain that the numbers wouldn't change, and with good reason: how could any other film from last year make more money when we were already almost a month into 2015? Well, it turns out that strange things happen every day, and that's why in March 2015 we are now crowning Clint Eastwood's American Sniper as the box office champion of last year.
The most recent numbers are in over at Box Office Mojo, and with its $4.5 million take this weekend, the movie has now eclipsed The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 as the biggest domestic release to initially be released in 2014. To date, the war film has brought in a grand total of $337.2 million here in the United States, which is just a little more than the $336.9 million that the most recent Hunger Games installment brought in.
Some may argue that American Sniper's box office ranking for the year 2014 should come with an asterisk. While the movie did initially get a limited release last Christmas - allowing it to qualify for the Academy Awards - it didn't actually get a wide release until January 16th. In reality, the Clint Eastwood film only made $1,329,299 last year - only about .4 percent of its gross to date.
What may wind up disappointing Hunger Games fans more than losing the top spot for 2014 is that this news means that the franchise as a whole loses a bit of clout. Paired with the success of 2013's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the series spent a few weeks as the only one in cinema history to have two titles top the box office two years in a row. Obviously, that's no longer the case.
The silver lining that Hunger Games fans can walk away with is the fact that Mockingjay - Part 1 is absolutely crushing American Sniper in theaters abroad - pulling in $414 million in foreign territories versus $163 million for the Eastwood title. Of course, neither come anywhere close to the money made by Michael Bay's Transformers: Age of Extinction, which took in an international total of over $1 billion. On the list of worldwide grosses, the recent Hunger Games entry is currently ranked at number five, while American Sniper is positioned at number 16.
Later this year, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 - the franchise finale - will be given the opportunity to become the biggest box office champion of 2015 - though it does face some rather stiff competition in the form of both Joss Whedon's The Avengers: Age of Ultron and J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens. To get back to my original point, however, strange things happen every day.