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‘American Sniper’ Takes Out Competition at Friday Box Office

'American Sniper' Takes Out Competition at Friday Box Office

During the week, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1” quietly overtook “Guardians of the Galaxy” as the top domestic grosser among 2014 releases. Katniss may be looking over her shoulder, though, as Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” (Warner Bros.) could be headed to top both films as early as the end of February (it would need to reach about $350 million to do so).

Its $18.2 million gross last night fell less than a quarter from the one-day total last week (the “official” number included Thursday night shows), and the eight day total for its wide release already stands at $151 million ($154 total with the three week platform dates added.) How big is this? The second weekend take should be around $60 million, which would make it the second best weekend ever for a January release (behind of course its own record last weekend).

Because of “Sniper,” the Top Ten gross of $39 million was 50% ahead of the same day last year. But it masks weakness among the rest of the entries. “Sniper” alone grossed as much as the next six films combined. And only one of the three new releases even managed to make into the top seven for the day.

The Jennifer Lopez low-budget starrer “The Boy Next Door” (Universal) was the standout among them, taking second place with $5.7 million and looking to slightly outpace pre-opening expectations. “Mortdecai” (Lionsgate) looks to be 2015’s second flop and another sign of Johnny Depp’s dropping appeal at only eighth place with $1,470,000. It should fall behind Disney and Lucasfilm’s animated “Strange Magic” after matinees. But $1.3 million (in ninth for the day) is also very weak.

The rest of the holdovers are an uneven mix. “The Wedding Ringer” (Sony) placed third at $3.3 million, more than 50% down from last Friday. Weinstein’s “Paddington” in fourth did $2.6 million, and might challenge “Wedding” for third before the weekend is done. “Taken 3” (20th Century Fox) took fifth with a little under $2.1 million also dropped more than half.

“The Imitation Game” (Weinstein) added about 25% more screens and saw its gross nudge up slightly to $1.9 million and sixth place. “Selma” (Paramount) in seventh kept its drop to about a third with just under $1.5 million. “Into the Woods” (Buena Vista) rounds out the Top Ten with $958,000.

Among more limited openers, “Cake” (Freestyle/Cinelou) managed less than $300,000 in 482 theaters, and should end up under $1 million for the weekend. Several significant new entries debuted to be analyzed tomorrow, but one reported gross is of interest. Jean-Luc Godard’s “Goodbye to Language 3D” (Kino Lorber) opened to a very strong $8,161 first day in its delayed Los Angeles opening at a normally repertory theater (the Aero).

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