This February’s success story is that of Academy Award, Best Picture Nominee American Sniper. The Bradley Cooper led war film has twisted the usual fate of Iraq based military dramas bolting from the box office to regular direct to home release. Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper is adapted for the screen from the memoir of Chris Kyle and Bradley Cooper delivers an Oscar worthy powerhouse performance as the deadliest sniper in US military history. The picture has exceeded even the loftiest expectations, breaking records for January weekend figures and on track to surpass $320 million worldwide. While most of this has been raked in from the multiple award nominations, making waves in US domestic theaters, the film has continued to also do well overseas. Having firmly held the number one box-office spot for three consecutive weekends, Sniper has been facing tough competition over Superbowl weekend, fending off competition on the playing field like Project Almanac and Black or White.
Trailing behind is Liam Neeson having taken the world by storm once again in his third outing as the iconic Bryan Mills in the Taken franchise. Despite the stern competition from some of last years late releases, Neeson’s skill set still includes maintaining a spot in the top three grossing films at the box office despite the competitors. The franchise despite criticism is holding well with over $244 million worldwide.
Slightly warm and fuzzier than the tale of a deadly sniper and an overused action hero, Paddington is another release that has dug its claws in at the top of the charts and clung on for dear life. Closing in at $200 million worldwide in ticket sales, the little brown bear got a more than decent start when it was released in the UK in late 2014, but its ticket sales have broken the roof since being released in North America in January. With Nicole Kidman starring, and its culturally exportable vision of an almost fairytale take on London, Paddington has charmed audiences on both sides of the pond and is still doing big business at the box office.
While not superseding a talking Paddington bear and a gun-toting Liam Neeson, teen time travel picture Project Almanac opened over the Superbowl weekend to a reasonable $8.5 million. However, if the dollars don’t start rolling in soon, it may receive a rather muted response overseas — Paramount will be hoping that the tickets start swiftly shifting in its second weekend on the showboards. Similarly, the Toronto Film Festival’s drama Black or White, from Kevin Costner, didn’t withstand the snipers, bears and commercial action heroes on its first weekend of release, just scraping together close to $6 million.
The Wedding Ringer has also managed to pull in the crowds in January, continuing Kevin Hart’s ascent up the box office ladder. In the light of a $50 million budget, the critically called disappointing Mortdecai Johnny Depp’s latest picture has only collected $12 million in ticket sales. Meanwhile, Universal’s Michael Mann movie Blackhat has also stuttered at the starting line, taking in only $14 million.
February sees the release of Fifty Shades of Grey, which if the bestselling book sales are anything to go by, will do stratospherically huge business at the box office. Released in time for Valentine’s Day and starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, this publishing phenomenon will likely be a success with the exception of critics. Expect it to draw a huge female audience and also a considerable amount of curious boyfriends and husbands. The trailer racked up more views than even the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens so expect Fifty Shades of Grey to eclipse all the other stars in February.
Come back next month to see if the kinky Fifty Shades manages to tie up and take down all the competition.
About the Author
Peter Turner Senior Reporter & Critic for Tastic Film Magazine.