Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper pulled in over $90 million in its debut weekend at the box office in the middle of January. The last few words of that sentence are the most important. This is the middle of January. Those numbers are huge for January.
How huge? Well, the previous top-grossing Martin Luther King weekend release was Kevin Hart’s Ride Along last year, which brought in $48.6 million. And that $40 million mark is what many believed American Sniper would take home this past weekend. The $90 million weekend surprised a lot of people, but it didn’t surprise me.
Why? Because this movie had three things going for it. The week before the wide release, the film was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. In addition to the awards, the film also benefited from an amazing trailer.
And we all know how Americans love a good war drama. Big guns, killing terrorists, cheesy southern accents, romance, etc. I mean, the only thing this film missed was a 10-minute montage of fast food cheeseburgers.
Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy this film. I saw it during its limited release on Christmas, and it was an enjoyable experience, which is saying a lot because the A/C was out inside the theater. That may not sound like a big deal in December, but there were a lot of people packed inside one tiny theater. It was unpleasant.
Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that these numbers aren’t really that surprising. I just hope this isn’t a sign of things to come. American Sniper is a good film, but there is no way it should win Best Picture. However, I am starting to get this strange feeling that it could pull off a huge upset.
We’ll see what happens soon enough.