Clint Eastwood’s biographical war drama American Sniper, based on the story of Chris Kyle who served on multiple Iraq tours and is considered the most lethal sniper in US military history, has been a rage on the box-office right from the opening day of its release. The movie’s promos, which emphasized that the movie wasn’t about the war alone but how it affects a military person’s life back at home, struck a chord with the American audience quite early on. The movie largely lived up to those sentiments, and its recognition was further driven by Oscar nominations for Best Picture as well as Best Actor for Bradley Cooper. At the Academy Awards, the movie did win an Oscar, for Best Sound Editing. But the bigger success for the studio came with the earnings at the box-office.
The movie had a limited release in North America in the last week of December 2014, but it expanded to more than 3,500 theatres only by mid-January 2015. So technically a 2014 movie, American Sniper had a phenomenal opening of slightly more than $89 million on its nationwide release. Compare it to its production budget of $59 million, and then the opening weekend collection seems all the more staggering. American Sniper has now grossed more than $337 million in North America alone, which puts it above the domestic earnings of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, and thus makes it the highest grossing domestic movie of 2014. What a phenomenal achievement for a R-rated war movie! Clint Eastwood and Warner Bros. could not have seen this coming even in their wildest dreams. The movie is still running in more than 2,500 theatres, which would gradually come down, though not before few more millions of dollars have been added to the total.
Internationally, American Sniper has not seen similar kind of reception, though it has a decent earnings total of $163 million from foreign markets so far. The worldwide gross is thus just about $500 million as of now, which is much lower than the $752 million earned by The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 and about half of the worldwide earnings of Transformers: Age of Extinction, the biggest movie of the year in terms of worldwide earnings. Nonetheless, American Sniper has achieved its feat with such a modest production budget which definitely makes it one of the most profitable movies of 2014. Ahh, 84-year old Clint Eastwood is very much in the game! And do not be surprised if the stock of war movies rises in the near future too.
So as to draw a comparison with the biggest domestic hits of previous years, then here is a list from 2008 onwards.
Movie: American Sniper (2014)
Budget & Domestic Revenues: $59 million & $337 million and counting… (revenues are 5.7 times the production budget)
Movie: The Hunger Games – Catching Fire (2013)
Budget & Domestic Revenues: $130 million & $425 million (3.3 times)
Movie: The Avengers (2012)
Budget & Domestic Revenues: $220 million & $623 million (2.8 times)
Movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011)
Budget & Domestic Revenues: $125 million & $381 million (3.0 times)
Movie: Toy Story 3 (2010)
Budget & Domestic Revenues: $200 million & $415 million (2.1 times)
Movie: Avatar (2009)
Budget & Domestic Revenues: $237 million & $750 million (3.2 times)
Movie: The Dark Knight (2008)
Budget & Domestic Revenues: $185 million & $535 million (2.9 times)
Source: Box Office Mojo and Wikipedia