“American Sniper” Translates Oscar Success into Record-Breaking Box Office
On Thursday, Clint Eastwood‘s war drama American Sniper snagged six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, surprising a lot of of Oscar predictors who didn’t think it would make such a strong showing. The awards buzz then translated into boffo business as American Sniper pulled in $5.3 million in ticket sales Thursday night, the biggest Thursday night ever for an R-rated film.
Advance ticket sales for Sniper on Fandango jumped a massive 264 percent on Thursday.
Initial estimates put American Sniper on track for a $50 million opening over the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend. This would already have been the best opening weekend of Clint Eastwood’s career as a director, topping the $29.5 pulled in by Gran Torino in 2008.
However, on Friday, Sniper boasted a massive $30.5 million from 3,555 theaters. This now puts it on track for an opening well beyond initial estimates, in the $75 million-$80 million range. This will easily make American Sniper‘s debut the highest-grossing January opening ever, massively high for a non-tentpole film.
For an R-rated, modern-day war movie, this is unprecedented. The highest-grossing opening for any war-themed film belonged to Pearl Harbor, which pulled in $59 million in 2001. That film was bolstered by the popularity of director Michael Bay and was rated PG-13.
American Sniper first debuted on Christmas Day, to qualify for Oscar contention. It pulled in almost $4 million from its limited run in Los Angeles, New York, and Dallas.
The film has been earning an A+ CinemaScore from audiences in all categories and currently boasts a 55% win percentage on Flickchart.
Along with Best Picture, American Sniper scored Oscar nods for Best-Adapted Screenplay, Editing, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing.
It also brought in a nomination for Bradley Cooper as Best Actor. This makes Cooper only the tenth actor in Oscar history to score three (or more) nominations in back-to-back years. The first was Spencer Tracy in 1936-38, followed by Gary Cooper (1941-43), Gregory Peck (1945-47), Marlon Brando (1951-54), Richard Burton (1964-66), Al Pacino (1972-75), Jack Nicholson (1973-75) and William Hurt (1985-87). Most recently, Russell Crowe scored three nominations in a row for The Insider, Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind. (Crowe won the Oscar for Gladiator.)
Cooper was previously nominated for Best Actor in Silver Linings Playbook and Best-Supporting Actor in American Hustle, his third- and fourth-highest ranked movies on Flickchart, respectively. As a producer, he shares the Best Picture nomination with Eastwood, Andrew Lazar, and Peter Morgan.
This would be Cooper’s first Oscar win, but he faces stiff competition in what was considered by many to be a stacked category even before the nominations were announced. Also up for the prize are Steve Carell for Foxcatcher, Benedict Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game, Michael Keaton for Birdman and Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything.