While the mini-storm of political controversy continues to float around “American Sniper,” it’s not keeping audiences from lining up for Clint Eastwood‘s Iraq war drama. For the second straight week in wide release, the Bradley Cooper starrer topped the box office, and hauled in a tremendous $64 million bucks. It’s the fourth best second weekend in box office history, bested only by “Avatar,” “The Avengers,” and “Spider-Man.” And this is all without a superhero cape in sight, and saddled with an R-rating, while released in the usually dismal box office season of January. It’s not hyperbole to say the film is doing phenomenal, unprecedented business, and crossing $200 million domestic. This is 84 year-old Clint Eastwood’s top grossing film ever. The only question now remaining is if it can challenge “The Passion Of The Christ” for the top earning, R-rated domestic release of all time. It’ll have to pass $370 million to get there, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility at this point.
Meanwhile, we’re now living in an era where J. Lo movies make more than J. Depp flicks. It appears Jenny from the block is still able to get them lining up around the block. The low-budget, poorly reviewed, erotic thriller “The Boy Next Door” did a surprisingly decent $15 million, her best opening since “Maid In Manhattan” took $18 million in 2002. However, the Universal flick was a cheapie affair, costing only $4 million, so the studio will make a quick buck on this one. Given the most response to the movie has been lackluster from critics and audiences alike, this won’t hang around the top ten too long. Probably just enough for Lopez to reassert herself as a potential box office draw, and for Universal to add this to plus column on their 2015 accounting sheet.
And speaking of poorly reviewed movies, Johnny Depp‘s savagely received “Mortdecai” died a horrible death, barely making an appearance in ninth place, with a paltry $4.1 million opening. That’s less than half of the already dismal $10 million first weekend haul of “Transcendence” last spring, adding to a string of poorly received movies, and marks Depp’s worst opening since “The Astronaut’s Wife” in 1999. The performance of “Mortdecai” is hardly a surprise, but it’s clear that whatever star power Depp might’ve traded in from his ‘Pirates’ blockbuster boost is fading very hard. Perhaps strategically, following his next two already wrapped indie films — “London Fields” and the gangster drama “Black Mass” — Depp is going back to his bread and butter with an “Alice In Wonderland” sequel, and the fifth ‘Pirates’ movie.
Another badly received movie also failed to spark must interest from moviegoers. George Lucas‘ animated musical fairy tale “Strange Magic” took in just $5.5 million. It looks like families are still preferring the cuddly and much more warmly reviewed “Paddington” than trying to figure out what “Strange Magic” is. The flick, a project that was part of the Lucasfilm package when Disney acquired the company, is one of the latter’s worst animated openings ever. But perhaps it’s a small price to pay for the massive box office that will come in December for “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.”
Elsewhere at the box office: “The Imitation Game” had a post-Oscar nomination expansion this weekend and it paid off nicely. The film earned just over $7.1 million, bringing its total at the moment to $60 million, making it the highest grossing indie of 2014. As it marches toward Oscar, expect those numbers to rise. Xavier Dolan‘s “Mommy” earned $21,000 in four theaters — a $5,765 per screen average — in limited release. Meanwhile overseas, “The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies” added $49.5 million to its bottom line opening in China. It sets a record for a Warner Bros. release in the country, and pushes the worldwide total for the trilogy ender to $866 million. Full top ten below.
1. American Sniper — $64 million ($200 mil.)
2. The Boy Next Door – $15 million
3. Paddington – $12 million ($40 mil.)
4. The Wedding Ringer – $11.6 million ($39 mil.)
5. Taken 3 – $7.6 million (($76 mil.)
6. The Imitation Game – $7.1 million ($60.6 mil.)
7. Strange Magic – $5.5 million
8. Selma – $5.5 million ($39.2 mil.)
9. Mortdecai – $4.1 million
10. Into The Woods – $3.8 million ($121.4 mil.)