The record platform openings for Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” weren’t a fluke. Its figure of $30.5 million yesterday, a record on multiple levels (best January wide opening day, best January Friday ever, best Eastwood start, best immediate post-Oscar nominations gross) includes this nugget: in one day, it has grossed half as much as any of its fellow Best Picture nominees have in their entire runs so far.
But the wealth was spread around, with two of the other three new wide releases also off to a strong start, and two other Oscar contenders also getting at least a modest boost. The total for the Top Ten comes to $56 million, nearly 25% ahead of last year’s start to the Martin Luther King weekend.
Besieged Sony had some good news. Its Kevin Hart-starring comedy “The Wedding Ringer” scored $7 million to take second place, decent although only half of the initial take of his “Ride Along” exactly one year ago. Weinstein’s “Paddington” also scored well initially with just under $4.7 million for third. This family live-action comedy, which has already passed $50 million in the U.K. (which equates based on population to about $300 million in the U.S.), should soar over the next three days and beyond as the prime kids’ film in the market, although it has adult appeal as well (similar to “Babe”).
Michael Mann’s “Blackhat” (Universal) lagged far behind the others, grossing only $1.4 million in eighth place. This China-set thriller will need hefty foreign returns to avoid being 2015’s first major flop.
Fox’s “Taken 3” tumbled about 70% from its initial Friday to take fourth with $4,250,000. “Selma” (Paramount) with its Best Picture nod (and controversy) placed fifth with a little under $2.4 million, down around 35% from its initial wide Friday. “The Imitation Game” (Weinstein) held better, close to $1.9 million and only down about 10%.
The remainder of the Top Ten consists of the three top December releases, now dropping fast. “Into the Woods” (Buena Vista) held best, down a third at around $1.7 million for seventh. “Unbroken” (Universal) took ninth at $1.2 million, taking a bigger drop. “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” fell the most (close to 60%) in tenth, just under $1.2 million.