Clint Eastwood’s Iraq War drama American Sniper dropped 51% in its third weekend as it added $31.85 million, which was more than enough to top the weekend box office for the third weekend in a row.   While the momentum slowed a bit for American Sniper, which is no longer a shoe-in to become the highest grossing film of 2014, Eastwood’s film still set a new record for Super Bowl weekend and was the driving force behind an 18.8% gain over the same weekend last year when Ride Along topped the charts for the third weekend in a row.

The big question about American Sniper is whether its third weekend drop-off was the result of competition from the Super Bowl, and if so, will it be able to rebound a bit next week as the competition heats up with the release of the Wachowski’s Jupiter Ascending and Legendary Pictures' Seventh SonAmerican Sniper still managed to set a new Super Bowl weekend record, just edging out the previous record of $31.17 million set by the Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Video.  So far American Sniper has earned $248.9 million, and should end up somewhere north of $325 million, though whether it will eventually manage to outdistance The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1’s $335.1 million and become the #1 film of 2014, is yet to be decided, and next weekend’s box office numbers could well prove decisive.  As for being the highest-grossing film in the “war movie” genre, American Sniper has outdistanced Saving Private Ryan‘s $216 million, though if the Spielberg film’s total is adjusted for inflation, it would balloon to $379 million.

The family-targeting Paddington dropped just 31% and moved up from third to second place as it earned $8.5 million and drove its domestic total to $50.5 million.  Paddington will face direct competition from the SpongeBob movie next weekend, but it appears to have a solid shot at a $75 million finish in the domestic market.

The teen-centri,c found footage, time-traveling drama Project Almanac bowed very disappointingly in third place with an estimated $8.5 million.  The bloom is definitely off the “found footage” rose as can be seen by comparing Project Almanac’s opening with that of Josh Trank’s Chronicle, which debuted on Super Bowl weekend in 2012 with $22 million.  With just a $12 million production tab, Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes Company won’t lose much, if anything on Project Almanac, but there aren’t going to be any profits either.  Project Almanac attracted a an audience that was 55% male and quite young, with 63% under 25—it hit the right demographic, it just didn’t get enough of them, and its mediocre “B” CinemaScore indicates that word-of-mouth is unlikely to carry the film.

Weekend Box Office (Studio Estimates): January 30 -- February 1, 2015


Weekend Gross



Total Gross



American Sniper














Project Almanac







Black or White







The Boy Next Door







The Wedding Ringer







The Imitation Game







Taken 3







Strange Magic







The Loft






This week’s other new wide-release, the Kevin Costner-starring Black or White, also bombed, though it attracted a crowd that was demographically the opposite of Project Almanac’s with a primarily female (64%) and older (78% over 25) crowd.  The good news for Black or White is that it scored a solid “A-“ CinemaScore, which could give the film some “legs,” though competition will be heating up in the weeks to come.

Two other films debuted in theaters this week.  The psychological thriller The Loft debuted in tenth place with a pitiful $1,564 per venue average, while the final two episodes of Season 4 of the HBO drama Game of Thrones (along with a preview of Season 5) opened in 205 IMAX locations and earned a very respectable $1.5 million with a $7,322 per-theater average that was by far the best of any of the new films opening in more than 25 locations.  With a solid success like this, look for a similar program next year if GOT retains its considerable popularity.

Elsewhere, the Jennifer Lopez thriller The Boy Next Door dropped 59% as it slipped from second to fifth place.  So far the $4 million production has earned a solid $24.7 million in the domestic market.  The Kevin Hart comedy The Wedding Ringer slipped 49.6% in its third weekend as it earned $5.7 million to bring its North American cumulative to $48.1 million.

The Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game fell just 25.5% as it brought its domestic total to nearly $68 million, while the Lucasfilm animated feature Strange Magic dropped just 37.5% as it earned $3.4 million and brought its total to $9.9 million.

Be sure and check back here next week to see if the Wachowski’s science fiction epic Jupiter Ascending, the Legendary Pictures fantasy The Seventh Son, or the new SpongeBob SquarePants movie will be able to challenge American Sniper for box office supremacy.

--Tom Flinn