Talk about a butt whopping! Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” dominated the competition over Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend with an outstanding $90.2 million.
The R-rated war drama exceeded all expectations on its way to setting a new January record, previously held by 2014’s “Ride Along” ($41.5 million). Sniper’s audience was 57 percent male and 63 percent over the age of 25.
The film earned an estimated $11.5 million in IMAX theaters, a new record for an R-rated movie. “American Sniper” also received an oh so rare “A+” CinemaScore, which suggests that word-of-mouth will be mighty strong.
In a very distant second place, comedy “The Wedding Ringer” opened to an estimated $21 million at 3,003 locations. That’s four straight $20-million-plus debuts for Kevin Hart, following “Ride Along,” “About Last Night,” and “Think Like a Man Too.” The bad news is that Ringer opened with half of what “Ride Along” brought in on the same weekend last year.
Critics didn’t care for the movie, and its currently at 32 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. On the bright side, “The wedding Ringer” has solid word-of-mouth (“A-” CinemaScore), and no serious comedy competition in the near future. Plus, no football next weekend, which may give the movie a little bit of a boost.
The family film “Paddington” performed well, earning an estimated $19.3 million over the weekend. With great word-of-mouth (“A” CinemaScore) and excellent reviews (98 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), “Paddington” should hold up really well in the coming weeks as the go to movie for family audiences.
And as I predicted Friday, the bomb of the week was hacker flick “Blachat.” Opening at 2,567 theaters, “Blackhat” earned an embarrassing $4 million this weekend. That’s director Michael Mann’s lowest opening since 1986. It’s also one of the worst debuts ever for a movie playing in over 2,500 locations.
With poor reviews and weak word-of-mouth (“C-” CinemaScore), this movie is going to fall of quickly from here. But to be fair, the terrible debut for “Blackhat” is simply due to the strength of “American Sniper.” Both movies fought for the same audience, and one movie was just more appealing.
Your top five special team players this weekend:
1. American Sniper — $90.2 million
2. The Wedding Ringer – $21 million
3. Paddington – $19.3 million
4. Taken 3 — $14.1 million
5. Selma – $8.3 million