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Friday Report: 'Sniper' Earns Huge $30.5 Million on Opening Day

by Ray Subers
American Sniper

January 17, 2015

After three excellent weeks in limited release, American Sniper expanded nationwide on Friday and earned a stunning $30.5 million.

This the largest single day ever in January; the previous record belonged to Avatar, which took in $25.8 million on January 2nd, 2010. It's also 77 percent higher than the previous opening day record, which belonged to Cloverfield ($17.2 million). Finally, American Sniper's opening was over twice as big as last year's Lone Survivor and Ride Along (both at $14.4 million).

With great word-of-mouth ("A+" CinemaScore), Sniper should play well through the rest of the weekend. Even if it takes a big drop against tough competition from the NFL conference championship games on Sunday, it should still wind up over $80 million for the three-day weekend.

If it plays like past Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend releases Contraband and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, it will reach $100 million on Monday.

In a distant second place, The Wedding Ringer opened to an estimated $7 million on Friday. That's around half as much as star Kevin Hart's Ride Along earned on the same day last year, and is also well below both Think Like a Man movies ($12 million). Still, it's a solid result that puts The Wedding Ringer on track to earn close to $25 million over the four-day weekend.

took third place with an estimated $4.66 million. That's just below last year's The Nut Job; if Paddington follows that movie's trajectory, it will wind up with around $25 million by Monday.

Coming off a surprisingly strong debut last weekend, Taken 3 plummeted 71 percent to an estimated $4.25 million on Friday. For the four-day weekend, the final installment in the popular action franchise will likely wind up between $16 and $18 million.

rounded out the Top Five with an estimated $2.36 million, which is off 37 percent from last Friday. It should play well through the long weekend, particularly on Monday (which is a national holiday celebrating the main character of the movie).

Michael Mann/Chris Hemsworth hacker thriller Blackhat opened in eighth place with a terrible $1.4 million. That's in line with Hemsworth brother Liam's Paranoia ($1.3 million), and is below past Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend bomb The Last Stand ($2 million). Blackhat could wind up with less than $4 million over the three-day weekend, which would be one of the worst debuts ever for a movie playing in at least 2,500 locations.

Weekend Projections

1. American Sniper - $86 million ($101 million four-day)
2. The Wedding Ringer - $21 million ($24 million four-day)
3. Paddington - $18 million ($24 million four-day)
4. Taken 3 - $14 million ($16.5 million four-day)
5. Selma - $8 million ($10 million four-day)

Discuss this story with fellow Box Office Mojo fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @boxofficemojo, and follow author Ray Subers at @raysubers.

Related Stories:
Forecast: 'Sniper' Sets Sights on January Record

Related Charts:
Grosses for Friday, January 16, 2015
2014 Domestic Box Office

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DAILY: Tuesday, 3/14 (36 tracked)
New MPAA Ratings Added
DAILY: Monday, 3/20 (38 tracked)
WEEKEND: Weekend Actuals, 'Beauty and the Beast' #1
DAILY: Friday, 'Beauty and the Beast' #1
WEEKLY: 'Kong: Skull Island' Tops the Week with $81.27m
DAILY: Thursday, 3/16 (47 tracked)
DAILY: Wednesday, 3/15 (38 tracked)