Sunday Update: Warner’s American Sniper dominated the box office for a third consecutive weekend with an estimated $31.85 million. That represented the largest unadjusted Super Bowl weekend gross ever (the previous record being the $31.12 million debut of 2008’s Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour). The blockbuster Clint Eastwood directed film starring Bradley Cooper was down a sizable 51 percent from last weekend, as the film clearly took a hit this weekend from its target audience being focused on Super Bowl XLIX. American Sniper will likely re-stabilize next weekend with the Super Bowl out of the way. The film has grossed a massive $248.94 million after 17 days of wide release. That places American Sniper a very impressive 47 percent ahead of the $169.56 million 17-day take of 2013’s Gravity.
With moviegoers not interested by the weekend’s three new wide releases, Paddington moved into second place with an estimated $8.505 million. The well received family film from The Weinstein Company was up one spot from last weekend and down a slim 31 percent. In addition to being aided by good word of mouth, Paddington also likely received an added boost this weekend from family audiences who wanted to catch the film before Paramount’s The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water arrives in the marketplace next weekend. Paddington surpassed the $50 million mark this weekend and has grossed a very solid $50.54 million in 17 days.
Paramount’s Project Almanac was the weekend’s top opener with an estimated third place start of $8.50 million (with Paddington and Project Almanac currently only separated by $5,000, the race for second place is obviously too close to call). However, the low-budget sci-fi thriller opened significantly below pre-release expectations, as it failed to spark much interest among moviegoers. Project Almanac opened a very disappointing 57 percent below the $19.88 million start of fellow Platinum Dunes film Ouija this past October. Project Almanac was likely hurt at least somewhat by having been delayed by nearly a year. On a positive note, Project Almanac did receive a B rating on CinemaScore, which is very solid given the film’s genre.
Relativity’s Black or White debuted in fourth with an estimated $6.46 million. The drama starring Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer opened on the high end of its modest expectations, as the film was able to find a bit of audience this weekend despite poor critical reviews. Black or White performed very similarly to the $6.20 million start of Relativity’s Beyond the Lights this past November. Black or White received an encouraging A- rating on CinemaScore, which suggests that the film is going over significantly better with moviegoers than it has with critics.
The Boy Next Door rounded out the weekend’s top five with an estimated $6.1 million. Universal’s low-budget thriller starring Jennifer Lopez was down 3 spots and a very sharp 59 percent from last weekend. The Boy Next Door has grossed a solid $24.69 million in ten days, but is likely to continue to fall off quickly going forward, especially with the upcoming release of Universal’s highly anticipated Fifty Shades of Grey now in the near horizon.
Sony’s The Wedding Ringer followed in sixth place with an estimated $5.7 million. The modestly budgeted comedy starring Kevin Hart and Josh Gad fell 50 percent from last weekend. The Wedding Ringer is on the verge of reaching the $50 million mark with a 17-day gross of $48.14 million.
Further down on this weekend’s chart nether Open Road’s The Loft nor A24’s A Most Violent Year were able to pack much punch. The Loft debuted in tenth place with an estimated $2.88 million. Meanwhile, A Most Violent Year landed in thirteenth place with an estimated $1.70 million from 818 locations. The Loft suffered from being given a last minute wide release (after being long delayed), while A Most Violent Year has seen its early momentum come to a halt after not receiving a Best Picture nomination. A Most Violent Year has grossed $3.17 million to date.
Warner’s Game of Thrones The IMAX Experience had a far more respectable performance this weekend with an estimated $1.50 million from 205 IMAX locations. That gave the theatrical release consisting of the final two episodes of Season 4 of the popular HBO series a healthy per-location average of $7,322 for the frame. Game of Thrones The IMAX Experience is scheduled to play in IMAX locations through February 5th.
Saturday Update: Warner Bros. reports that American Sniper easily led Friday’s box office for a third consecutive week, adding an estimated $10.02 million to its blockbuster haul. That figure is down 45 percent from last Friday and brings the film’s total up to $227.1 million through 15 days of wide release — on par with the pace of The Passion of the Christ and 53 percent ahead of where Gravity stood at the same point. BoxOffice projects a $30.5 million Super Bowl weekend take.
Paramount’s Project Almanac debuted to $3.2 million on Friday. Unfortunately, that falls short of even conservative expectations heading into the weekend. The modestly budgeted (estimated $12 million production) found-footage thriller should land around $8.2 million for its opening weekend.
Black or White debuted to $2.27 million yesterday. Unfortunately, the pic had the disadvantage of opening in a market already featuring Selma as the primary option for moviegoers looking for a drama tackling racial subject matter. BoxOffice projects a $6.1 million debut weekend.
The Boy Next Door was off 63 percent from last week to $2.1 million on Friday. With $20.7 million in the bank through 8 days of release, look for a sophomore frame around $6.0 million.
Paddington took in another $1.94 million on Friday for a 25.5 percent week-to-week drop. With $44 million in the bank, BoxOffice projects an $8 million frame.
The Imitation Game added $1.61 million yesterday, down just 16 percent from last Friday and boosting its total to $64.4 million. BoxOffice projects a $5.3 million weekend.
Meanwhile, The Loft bowed to $1.18 million yesterday. With a late release announcement and very little marketing push, the film was not expected to make a big splash at the box office. BoxOffice projects a $3 million weekend.
Last but certainly not least, Game of Thrones: The IMAX Experience grabbed a strong $686,000 from 205 IMAX locations, giving it a $3,348 per-screen average. As the first television series ever released in the premium format, fans had been driving strong pre-sales over the last few weeks. Comparisons are few and far between, but look for a weekend in the neighborhood of $1.3 million.
Check BoxOffice tomorrow for official weekend estimates from the studios.
Friday Update: Sources report that Project Almanac bowed to $375K from Thursday evening shows. That’s noticeably behind Into the Storm‘s $800K early show take last August, although that film had the advantage of opening during late summer when schools were out.
Also opening this weekend are Black or White (which earned $115K from Thursday shows) and The Loft, though none of the three newcomers will be able to unseat American Sniper from the top spot over Super Bowl weekend.
More as it comes.