The Clint Eastwood film, American Sniper, is now the highest grossing war movie of all time at the domestic box office, surpassing Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan.
American Sniper has its eyes set on The Passion of the Christ, the current record holder for highest grossing R-rated movie of all time, and despite a slower weekend at the box office, the controversial film continues to rule.
Bradley Cooper plays Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history. The film is based on the autobiographical book of the same name, and it depicts Kyle’s experiences during four tours in Iraq at the height of hostilities during the American invasion.
When it opened in January, American Sniper surprised even Warner Bros., breaking the record of best selling movie for the month and creating a storm of criticism on social media. Everyone had an opinion to share on Twitter or Facebook, and the nature of Kyle’s military career sparked a national debate.
The studio indicated American Sniper is the new record holder and has been at the top of the box office for the last three weeks or so. The war film narrowly missed the title of “Best Super Bowl Box Office Weekend” with $30 million in earnings during a typically slow movies weekend.
Other war movies set in Iraq, such as Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker, didn’t even come close to making the money American Sniper has thus far. One of the most successful films in the genre, the 1988 depiction of the allied landing on the beaches of Normandy during World War II, Saving Private Ryan, was the top war movie since it opened 16 years ago with $216 million.
The Passion of the Christ, which was highly controversial because of the graphic depiction of Jesus’ crucifixion, has earned $370 million domestically. If American Sniper surpasses the Mel Gibson drama, it can become the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time.
American Sniper has earned an additional $67 million at the international box office for an overall total of $316.2 million to date. According to Warner Bros. distribution executive vice president Jeff Goldstein, the Chris Kyle story is doing so well thanks to ticket sales in small towns all across the U.S., adding to the box-office earnings in the big cities, where multiplexes rule.
Bradley Cooper has received critical praise for his preparation to play Kyle, a role for which he had to gain weight and bulk up. Additionally, he had to master the mannerisms and southern accent.
American Sniper continues to play in theaters, so be sure to check your local listings for times and locations.
[Image via Warner Bros.]