“American Sniper” (Warner Bros.) once again outpaced the rest of the Top Ten, as it easily leads for the third straight weekend and heads to close to $250 million by Sunday. Super Bowl weekend traditionally is down (and not just Sunday, as social activity decreases the other two days), and this year looks like no exception. “Sniper” took its first big drop, with its $10 million take down from $18 last Friday. Because of “Sniper,” the day showed an uptick from last year ($26.3 million compared to $21.5), but at this point it is mainly a one film-driven increase, not broad-based like last month’s holiday boost.
The big game on its own makes an off-weekend a self-fulfilling prophecy, as studios usually avoid it as a time to launch new films. Despite that, three were sprung. The best, the low-budget time-travel story “Project Almanac” (Paramount) produced by Michael Bay, placed second for the day with $3.2 million, mostly scoring with the now-elusive younger audience. This still came in under expectations, and likely will drop lower for the three-day total. Placing third was “Black or White” (Relativity) with Kevin Costner and Olivia Spencer, a bit above pre-opening estimates with a little under $2.3 million, but still unexceptional. Lagging far behind in ninth is “The Loft” (Open Road), a remake of a Dutch murder mystery that might not even make the final weekend Top Ten by tomorrow. It managed less that $1.2 million.
The holdovers in the rest of the Top Ten were led (for at least one day) by Jennifer Lopez’ “The Boy Next Door” (Universal) in fourth, but collapsing to $2.1 million ($5.7 last Friday). “Paddington” (Weinstein) should rise over the weekend, and held well with just over $1.9 million in fifth for the day. “The Wedding Ringer” (Sony) in sixth fell more at $1.9 million. In seventh, aided by another jump in theaters but otherwise holding the best on the list is “The Imitation Game” (Weinstein) at $1.6 million. “Taken 3” (20th Century Fox) in eighth added another $1.2 million, while “Selma” held on to tenth for the moment (Disney’s “Strange Magic” may overtake it for the weekend) with $900,000.