Clint Eastwood’s Iraq war drama edged ahead of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” for a film released last year, according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.
“Whether you liked ‘American Sniper’ or not, it’s a good thing for the industry having a drama become the biggest box office hit of the year domestically,” Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock told AFP.
“Sequels and superhero films usually achieve that distinction lately. It is a surprise? Most definitely. Clint Eastwood, even with all his Oscar glory, has never had a hit like this,” he added.
“American Sniper,” which was nominated for six Oscars of which it scooped up one for sound editing, has earned $337.1 million compared to $336.95 million for the latest “Hunger Games” movie, according to Exhibitor Relations figures.
It was given a limited release in December to qualify for awards season, before its full roll-out in January. But that also qualifies it as a 2014 release for box office figures.
This weekend meanwhile was ruled by ‘Chappie,” a dystopian romp starring Dev Patel, Hugh Jackman and Sigourney Weaver, which took in $13.3 million.
The film kicked last weekend’s top earner, con-artist flick “Focus,” into second place. The dark comedy, starring Will Smith as a crook who takes on a protege played by Margot Robbie, raked in $10 million.
Debuting in third with $8.5 million was sequel “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” featuring an all-star, if aging, cast including Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton and Richard Gere.
The tale of retirees staying in an expanding hotel in Jaipur, India, also stars Dev Patel as the facility’s manager, in his second weekend box office debut.
Falling to fourth was British spy film “Kingsman: The Secret Service” with $8.3 million, while children’s animated romp “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” trailed behind with $6.7 million.
Racy bondage tale “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which saw a record February opening, meanwhile slid into sixth place.
The erotic tale of billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and his sadomasochistic relationship with new college graduate Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) took in $5.5 million.
Kevin Costner sport drama “McFarland, USA,” the story of a small-town cross-country team made of students from immigrant families, was in seventh place with $5.2 million in its third week out.
Landing in eighth with $5.1 million was horror flick “The Lazarus Effect,” about medical students who discover a way to bring people back to life.
Teen comedy “The Duff” fell one spot to ninth, pulling in $4.8 million.
And Vince Vaughn comedy “Unfinished Business” debuted to the tune of $4.8 million, in tenth. -AFP