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'American Sniper' peerless at top of box office

The Clint Eastwood-directed drama has shrugged off rumbling controversies to surpass Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” as the most successful war film ever made, inching past the 1998 movie’s record haul of $216.5 million.

Eastwood’s movie, loosely based on the life of Chris Kyle, the deadliest sniper in US military history, has divided critics who have accused it of presenting a simplistic black-and-white view of the Iraq War.

But cinemagoers have flocked to the film in droves, helping the movie earn another $30.7 million this weekend to take its total earnings to $247.8 million, figures from box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations showed.

“American Sniper” — which has been nominated for six Academy Awards — has now set its sights on another box-office record, aiming to become the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time. That record currently belongs to Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” with $370 million.

In second place this weekend was science-fiction thriller “Project Almanac,” about a group of friends who discover a time machine with disastrous consequences, which debuted with $8.3 million.

In third was children’s movie “Paddington,” the acclaimed big-screen adaptation based on the beloved books by English author Michael Bond, about a bear from deepest, darkest Peru with a taste for marmalade.

The movie took $8.3 million in its third week of release, pushing its earnings to $50.3 million.

Fourth spot belonged to another new release, “Black or White,” a racially charged drama starring Kevin Costner as a widowed grandfather battling to retain custody of his granddaughter. The film took $6.2 million.

Jennifer Lopez’s steamy thriller “The Boy Next Door,” which stars the pop diva as a divorcee who has an ill-advised affair with a handsome — very young — neighbor, was fifth with $6.1 million.

Comedy “The Wedding Ringer” was sixth with $5.7 million, just ahead of Oscar-nominated World War II drama “The Imitation Game,” which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as codebreaking genius Alan Turing. The movie took $5.0 million.

Eighth place went to “Taken 3,” the latest instalment of the successful action franchise starring Liam Neeson as a no-nonsense former CIA agent. The movie took $3.7 million in its fourth week of release, pushing its earnings past $81 million.

Musical fairy tale “Strange Magic” — the first animated movie release by Lucasfilm since its 2012 purchase by Disney — was ninth with $3.4 million while debuting thriller “The Loft” rounded out the top 10 with $2.7 million- AFP



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