‘American Sniper’ Overcomes Obstacles For Record-Breaking Debut: Navy SEAL Hero Chris Kyle Honored

American Sniper had a limited opening this Christmas Day.

At four venues spread between Dallas, Los Angeles and New York, American Sniper raked in just over $240,000 total. That statistic breaks the all-time record for limited-release movies on Christmas that showed on fewer than 10 screens.

Despite the huge opening for American Sniper and the mostly positive reviews, there has been some darkness behind the scenes.

Directed by Clint Eastwood (Jersey Boy, Gran Torino) and starring Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook, Guardians of the Galaxy), American Sniper is based on Chris Kyle’s autobiography, American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History.

The book focuses on Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s life. The story follows him as he is sent to Iraq and builds up his name as a courageous and deadly sniper. As his reputation builds, a price is put on his head. All the while, Kyle has to balance his Navy carrier with his personal life.

In real life, the hero of American Sniper was murdered, and not while he was on duty.

When Chris Kyle left the Navy in 2009, he created a life for himself in Dallas. He even became the president of Craft International, which was a company that was dedicated to helping wounded veterans.

On February 2, 2013, the American Sniper hero took a friend and an acquaintance to the shooting range. The acquaintance, Eddie Ray Routh, then allegedly shot and killed both Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield.

In February, Routh is set to stand trial for the murders. The death penalty is not being sought, however, and it has been suggested that even Kyle himself saw Routh as more “troubled” than anything else.

That is not the only thing going on behind the scenes.

On December 23, 2014, Taya Kyle, widow of the American Sniper hero, appealed a verdict against her husband’s estate. That verdict was for the amount of $1.8 million dollars and was won by Jesse Ventura, who claimed that Chris Kyle was guilty of defamation of character in his book.

The defamation Ventura took offense to was an anecdote that claimed that Kyle punched Ventura for spouting disrespectful comments about The Navy SEALs and George W. Bush.

American Sniper, despite all obstacles, has managed to capture the attention of movie goers everywhere. Those who didn’t see it during its limited release will be able to see it in theaters nationwide on January 16, 2015.

[ Image courtesy of Warner Bros. ]