Brilliantly marketed and aggressively showered with Oscar nominations, “American Sniper” blew away expectations with a record-setting performance at the Friday box office.
According to preliminary estimates, the film earned about $29 million on Friday, which marked its first day of wide availability.
Whether measured against other opening day performances (depending on one considers this an opening) or any single day performances, the $29 million holds up as the greatest ever for January.
Going into Friday, the opening day record belonged to “Cloverfield” ($17.165 million on 1/18/08) and the single day was held by “Avatar” ($25.836 million on 1/2/10).
Given its blockbuster start, “American Sniper” will easily set a new high mark for the four-day Martin Luther King Day weekend. That record previously belonged to Kevin Hart’s “Ride Along,” which earned $48.6 million last year.
It will also score the greatest weekend total for a Clint Eastwood-directed film. “Gran Torino” previously held that distinction thanks to a $29.5 million total.
— On the subject of Hart, his new release “The Wedding Ringer” placed second Friday. It earned about $7 million Friday.
— Other new releases included the critically acclaimed “Paddington” (~$5 million Friday) and “Blackhat” (a disastrous ~$1.5 million Friday). The latter might not make the weekend’s top ten.