'Sniper' Leads January Box Office Past $1 Billion
Thanks in large part to American Sniper's extraordinary performance, the domestic box office topped $1 billion in January for the first time since 2010.

American Sniper accounted for $242.2 million, or 24 percent, of that total. After playing at four locations for three weeks—dating back to Christmas Day—Sniper earned an incredible $107.2 million when it expanded nationwide over Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. It proceeded to hold well in its second weekend (off only 28 percent), which set it up to become one of the highest-grossing movies from 2014.

Even with a steep third weekend drop, Sniper remains on track to wind up over $330 million, which will rank second all-time among R-rated movies behind The Passion of the Christ ($370.8 million).

In a distant second place, Taken 3 took in $80.9 million during the month of January. The final installment in the popular action franchise should wrap up its run with a bit less than $100 million, which is a big step down for the franchise. Still, overseas remains strong, and the budget was kept under control, so this is unquestionably a win.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies took third place with $61.9 million, which pushed its overall total past $250 million. By the end of the month, grosses had dropped down to a trickle, and this is now positioned to be the lowest-grossing of Peter Jackson's Middle Earth movies (behind The Desolation of Smaug's $258.4 million). Of course, it's still going to earn nearly $1 billion worldwide, so this is absolutely a financial success.

Fellow December releases Into the Woods and Unbroken rounded out the Top Five with $59.9 million and $51.2 million, respectively. Into the Woods will wrap up its run with around $130 million, while Unbroken is going to wind up with over $115 million. Other solid performers in January include Paddington ($48.5 million on its way to $70-million plus) and The Wedding Ringer ($47.4 million heading to $60 million).

After expanding wide at Christmas, The Imitation Game maintained momentum throughout January, dropping less than seven percent for three straight weeks. The movie ended the month with over $67 million total, and is on its way to at least $90 million total.

Finally, after a so-so first weekend, Selma held well over Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend and wound up earning a solid $41.9 million in January. With a few more weeks until the Academy Awards ceremony, Selma should wind up inching past $50 million total.

There were a few modest misses in January. The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death opened to a solid $15 million, but collapsed in subsequent frames. It ended the month with $26.1 million, and will conclude its run below $27 million, which is a 50 percent decline from the first installment. Meanwhile, The Boy Next Door earned $23.7 million in its first nine days, but is falling off quickly and could close below $35 million.

Both of these were low cost thrillers, and it's entirely possible that they wind up being marginally profitable. Still, neither looks good against comparable titles, and it's likely that the respective studios were targeting a bit more in each case.

Of course, both of those were resounding successes compared to Strange Magic, Blackhat and Mortdecai, which were all disasters. Strange Magic ended the month with $9.06 million, which is astonishingly low for an animated movie that opened at over 3,000 locations. Meanwhile, pricey star-driven movies Blackhat and Mortdecai earned $7.8 million and $6.6 million, respectively, and both movies are on their way to less than $10 million total.

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January Calendar Grosses

2015 Grosses (2015-only releases)

Year-to-Date Comparison