Box Office: 'American Sniper' Eyes Massive $63M-Plus Weekend; 'Mortdecai' Tanks

David Appleby
'Mortdecai'

'The Boy Next Door,' starring Jennifer Lopez, opens in the No. 2 spot for a $15M-plus debut.

Clint Eastwood's American Sniper remains a box-office monster in its second outing, grossing $18.3 million Friday for a projected $63-million-plus weekend, putting its domestic total at nearly $200 million by the end of Sunday.

The film's hold is exceptional, underscoring its appeal in Middle America and the boost it's getting elsewhere from scoring six Oscar nominations, including best picture and best actor (Bradley Cooper). Sniper looks to fall less than 30 percent from its opening weekend.

At the other end of the spectrum, Johnny Depp's newest film, Mortdecai, is tanking in its domestic launch, earning an estimated $1.5 million Friday for a projected $4.5 million weekend, one of the worst openings of the actor's career. Mortdecai, eking out a ninth-place finish, received a terrible C+ CinemaScore and is the second straight bomb of 2015 after Michael Mann's big-budget Blackhat, which also launched in the $4 million range.

Depp's film is losing handily to fellow new offering The Boy Next Door, a psychological thriller starring Jennifer Lopez and Ryan Guzman. The Boy Next Door did solid business Friday, grossing $5.6 million to come in No. 2. It's expected to earn $16.5 million for the weekend.

Mortdecai marks Depp's third recent dud after Transcendence and The Lone Ranger (he does have a small role in box-office win Into the Woods, now in theaters), and is his lowest nationwide opening since The Astronaut's Wife ($4 million) in 1999.

Lionsgate and OddLot Entertainment had high hopes for the movie, directed by David Koepp and starring Depp as a debonair art dealer and part-time rogue who races to recover a stolen painting rumored to contain the code to a lost bank account filled with Nazi gold. Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Olivia Munn, Jeff Goldblum and Paul Bettany also star in the film adaptation of Kyril Bonfiglioli's novel Don't Point That Thing at Me.

Rated R, The Boy Next Door is the latest title from Universal's deal with Jason Blum's Blumhouse. Directed by Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious), the $4 million film explores what happens when forbidden attraction goes too far.

Also opening this weekend is the George Lucas-produced Strange Magic, an animated family film that's looking at a disappointing $5 million launch for a seventh-place finish.

From a story by Lucas, Strange Magic is an animated romp set in a whimsical land of potions, goblins and fairies that's loosely inspired by William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. The movie was already in the works when Disney swooped in and bought Lucasfilm in 2012, but Strange Magic was kept on the QT until last fall, when Disney announced a Jan. 23 release. The voice cast includes Evan Rachel Wood, Alan Cumming, Kristin Chenoweth, Maya Rudolph, Sam Palladio, Meredith Anne Bull, Alfred Molina and Elijah Kelley, who sing new versions of pop and classic rock songs.

Back in the top 10, British family film Paddington remains the family offering of choice ahead of Strange Magic and is looking at a third-place finish in its second weekend, with $12 million for a domestic total of $39 million-plus. The movie, distributed by The Weinstein Co. in the U.S., has grossed north of $160 million globally.

Kevin Hart and Josh Gad's The Wedding Ringer is expected to come in No. 4 in its second outing with an estimated $11 million for Screen Gems, pushing its total to north of $38 million.

Harvey Weinstein's Oscar contender The Imitation Game has a shot at overtaking Taken 3 to grab the No. 5 spot with weekend earnings of $7 million for a domestic total of $60 million. Sometime over the weekend, the movie will overtake The Grand Budapest Hotel ($57 million) to become the top-grossing indie film released in 2014.

Jennifer Aniston's Cake opens in 482 theaters this weekend and won't do much more than $900,000. Generally speaking, an indie movie opens in far fewer theaters in hopes of building word of mouth, but Freestyle opted for a larger footprint.

 

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