American Sniper Dominates Super Bowl Weekend
By John Hamann
February 1, 2015
Like what Seattle will do to New England today, American Sniper did to the rest of films in release this weekend. For the third straight weekend, the Clint Eastwood film dominated, almost doubling the combined gross of all three weak openers.
It’s Super Bowl Weekend, a box office frame that has become much like Labor Day, the first weekend in December, or any late-August weekend. It’s a box office dead zone because the Super Bowl has become the event that attracts all quadrants of the demographic landscape. It is no longer just men who watch the game - my sister and her girlfriend seriously considered buying scalped tickets and traveling thousands of miles to Arizona to see Seattle win consecutive championships.
The box office should lag significantly this weekend, much like it did last year, when the top12 films earned $70.9 million, or in 2013 when the top 12 took in $68.9 million. We would have one of those bottom-dwelling weekends this year as well had it not been for American Sniper, which dominated for the third weekend in a row despite having earned $217 million domestic before the weekend began.
Openers were an odd lot, much like last weekend when Mortdecai and Strange Magic debuted, both of which have been either thrust out of the top 12 (Mortdecai) or are hanging by a thread (Strange Magic). The same will be said of the frame’s three newbies next weekend, as there is nothing to see here. Openers included Project Almanac, a found footage nightmare that was dumped into Super Bowl weekend that was shot back in 2013, Black or White, the latest from Kevin Costner that looks like it wanted to be Oscar worthy but wasn’t, The Loft, a dumped, 2011-shot thriller starring Karl Urban and some C-listers about an apartment rented for trysts (I would have used it to watch the game, and then no one gets hurt), and finally, Game of Thrones, where IMAX screened the last two episodes of the previous season. You know it’s slow out there when a repeated TV show draws the biggest crowds on a per-theater basis.
Our number one film, for the third consecutive weekend, is American Sniper, the much talked and written about war flick starring Bradley Cooper. After an amazing run that completely dominated the month of January, one had to wonder if the Super Bowl would slow its progress this weekend. After dropping only 28% last weekend (which is mind-numbing given the $64.6 million weekend gross), Sniper fell off a bit this weekend, the first sign of which came Friday night. The Warner Bros. flick earned $10 million on the first day of the weekend, a decent enough number, but it fell 45% from its previous Friday, Sniper’s largest Friday-to-Friday drop so far in its run. Still, the Friday number put it in position to become the biggest earner ever on a Super Bowl weekend, as the previous film to hold that record was Hannah Montana: The Movie at $31.1 million.