Box Office: 'American Sniper' Hits Stunning $200M; Johnny Depp Fizzles
Clint Eastwood's war film continues to make history, while Depp's 'Mortdecai' marks his worst nationwide opening in the post-'Pirates' era; Jennifer Aniston's 'Cake' struggles in limited launch.
Clint Eastwood's American Sniper remained a phenomenon in its second weekend, earning a stunning $64.4 million from 3,705 theaters and quickly becoming the No. 2 war film of all time at the North American box office, not accounting for inflation. Its domestic total through Sunday is $200.1 million for Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow.
In only 10 days in release, American Sniper has eclipsed the $198.5 million earned all in by Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor, and it will soon overtake the $216.5 million grossed by Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan in 1998. Taking inflation into account, Private Ryan would have earned more than $300 million by today's terms; Sniper is sure to eclipse that number when all is said and done.
Overseas, the decidedly pro-American film earned another $17.6 million from 26 markets, bringing its foreign total to $47.5 million and global haul to $247.6 million. Sniper is a tough sell overseas, but is pulling in solid numbers in Europe and Australia (and it's a blockbuster in Italy, where Eastwood is an icon).
Warners scored a second victory internationally with Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, which launched in China to an impressive $49.5 million — the studio's biggest three-day opening of all time and bringing the movie's foreign total to $616.9 million and global cume to $866.5 million.
Domestically, American Sniper fell just 28 percent in its second weekend — the best hold ever for a movie opening to more than $85 million. The film's ongoing strength underscores 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).
At the other end of the spectrum, Johnny Depp's newest film, Mortdecai, tanked in its domestic launch, earning an estimated $4.1 million from 2,648 locations, the actor's worst opening in the post-Pirates era. Moreover, it's his third big-budget 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 launch since The Astronaut's Wife ($4 million) 15 years ago. Mortdecai earned a dismal C+ CinemaScore.
Lionsgate and OddLot Entertainment had high hopes for the $60 million 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.
In more bad news, Mortdecai also fell flat overseas, where Depp has remained a bigger draw. The movie grossed just $5.2 million from 33 territories. Germany led with $1.2 million.
Domestically, Mortdecai lost handily to an unlikely competitor — The Boy Next Door, starring Jennifer Lopez. The psychological thriller, co-starring Ryan Guzman, opened to a solid $15 million from 2,602 theaters to place No. 2. The film, earning a B+ CinemaScore, was a big draw among Hispanics (45 percent).
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 was the George Lucas-produced Strange Magic, an animated family film that grossed just $5.5 million from 3,020 locations — one of the worst openings ever for a title opening in more than 3,000 locations. Strange Magic placed No. 7 after earning a B- CinemaScore.
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 remained the family offering of choice ahead of Strange Magic and placed No. 3 with $12.4 million from 3,355 theaters, falling only 35 percent. The movie, distributed by The Weinstein Co. in the U.S., has now grossed a better-than-expected $40.1 million domestically.
Kevin Hart and Josh Gad's The Wedding Ringer fell 44 percent in its second outing with $11.6 million from 3,003 locations for a domestic total of $39.7 million. Screen Gems made the R-rated comedy for a relatively modest $23 million.
In its third weekend, Taken 3 rounded out the top five with $7.6 million from 2,909 locaitons for a sturdy North American total of $76 million for Fox and EuropaCorp.
Like American Sniper, Harvey Weinstein's Oscar best-picture contender The Imitation Game continues to see the biggest gains after landing a number of top nominations. The British drama, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, earned $7.1 million as it expanded into a total of 2,025 theaters for a domestic cume of $60.6 million — overtaking The Grand Budapest Hotel ($57 million) to become the top-grossing indie film released in 2014 (the film first debuted in select theaters over Thanksgiving ).
Among other specialty offerings, Jennifer Aniston's Cake made a muted showing as it launched in 482 theaters, earning an estimated $1 million for a screen average of just $2,074. Usually, indie films open in far fewer theaters in hopes of building word of mouth, but distributor Cinelou opted for a larger footprint.
Kevin Macdonald's submarine action-thriller Black Sea opened in five locations, earning a muted $35,000 for a screen average of $7,000. Jude Law stars in the film, distributed by Focus Features.