Clint Eastwood is 84-years-old. Which means he was making movies while most of us were still in diapers at some point. Shady Acres Retirement Home? Never gonna happen. In fact, his latest, “American Sniper,” is on target to have one of the best wide openings of his career, potentially breaking $40M+ this weekend.
A few years back Warner Bros. rolled out Eastwood’s “Gran Torino” in similar fashion and that went on to gross $148M domestic and nearly $270M worldwide. With Bradley Cooper on point, and “American Sniper” firing up a smoking hot per theater average of $157k per the last three weekends there is no doubt it will be #1 with a bullet.
“American Sniper,” which carries a modest $60M price tag, also has a very good chance of topping last year’s “Lone Survivor,” another war drama that followed the same trajectory, starring Mark Wahlberg, which debuted with $37M. And if it tops $41M, it would pass “Ride Along” to become the #1 January opener of all-time.
MKL weekend is actually very strong this year with Weinstein’s “Paddington” leading the family brigade, Kevin Hart’s “The Wedding Ringer” looking to snag urban audiences and those looking for a laugh and Chris Hemsworth starring in Michael Mann’s “Blackhat.”
That’s four strong entries in wide release this weekend with all of them potentially pushing past $20M+ over the extended weekend–exactly what Hollywood needs.
Late in the game, Weinstein Co. pulled “Paddington” from a Christmas release, opting for softer competition. Seems like a good move as “Night at the Museum 3” and “Annie” are losing steam fast, and with the $55M “Paddington” already stuffing $122M in foreign coin in its pockets…this is already a big win for the studio i.e. expect lots of sequels.
Kevin Hart is still riding a box office hot streak that has seen him open “Ride Along,” “About Last Night,” and “Think Like a Man Too” all with $25M+. Sony’s $23M production of “The Wedding Ringer” will likely make its money back opening weekend, which would further cement Hart’s status as one of the top comedians in the movie biz right now.
And then we have Michael Mann, who only makes films with running times of over two hours and only makes a movie every few years. Let me tell you…it’s almost always worth the wait. The cyber-terror aspect is very topical, however the level of competition this film faces in “Taken 3” and “American Sniper” will likely keep it from topping his past debuts of–“Public Enemies” ($25M), “Miami Vice” ($25M) and “Collateral” $24M.
“Blackhat” should do some serious business overseas, however with an $80M budget…it seriously needs to. The problem is that outside the mighty Thor, Hemsworth has proven to be a mere mortal when headlining a film as “Rush” and “Red Dawn” have shown. Still, this should have a long shelf life as the rest of January’s films look pretty weak.
1. American Sniper – $43M
2. Paddington – $23M
3. The Wedding Ringer – $22M
4. Taken 3 – $17M
5. Blackhat – $15M
Jeff Bock, NewsWhistle’s movie editor, is the senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations in Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at Jeff@NewsWhistle.com.