Los Angeles: Clint Eastwood`s ‘American Sniper’ blasted into first place with a massive $107 million on its debut weekend at the North American box office, a record for a January opening, industry figures showed Tuesday.
The war drama, based on the true story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, has racked up six Oscar nominations, including best picture and best actor for star Bradley Cooper.
But the film -- on its first weekend in wide release -- also triggered a heated online debate about patriotism, with documentary filmmaker Michael Moore claiming it hero-worships Kyle, while Sarah Palin said leftists were "not fit to shine Chris Kyle`s combat boots."
"God bless our troops, especially our snipers," the former Alaska governor and one-time vice-presidential nominee, a darling of the rightwing Tea Party movement, wrote on her Facebook page.
A long way behind in second place was ‘Paddington,’ a new big-screen adaptation of the family classic about a bear lost in the big city. The kids comedy, starring British actor Hugh Bonneville of ‘Downton Abbey’ fame opposite the marmalade-loving bear, took in $25.5 million in its US bow.
In another solid debut on the long holiday weekend, action comedy ‘The Wedding Ringer’ opened in third place with $24 million, according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations. The critically panned flick stars Kevin Hart as a best-man-for-hire for a socially awkward groom.
Action sequel ‘Taken 3’ fell to fourth spot. The crime thriller starring Liam Neeson in his third stint as retired spy Bryan Mills, who this time must clear his name of a ruthless murder, earned $17.1 million in its second weekend in theaters.
Historical drama ‘Selma,’ depicting the epic 1965 Alabama march led by Martin Luther King in his battle for equal voting rights, was next, earning $13.9 million. The film was nominated this week for two Oscars, including best picture.
Disney`s ‘Into the Woods,’ the star-studded big-screen adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical, came in sixth adding $8.7 million to its three-week haul of $116.5 million.
‘The Imitation Game’ was in seventh with $8 million. The thriller about a code-cracking mathematician during World War II was near the top of the Oscars nomination list, with eight nods including in several of the major categories.
In eighth was ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,’ by Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson, the last of six films adapted from J.R.R Tolkien`s books and the third and final instalment based on the author`s novel ‘The Hobbit.’
It took in a whisker under $6 million over the weekend, for a total of $245.7 million since its release five weeks ago.
Close behind in ninth with $5.3 million was ‘Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb,’ the third movie in the Ben Stiller franchise about a museum security guard trying to keep track of exhibits that come to life.
Rounding out the top 10 with just over $5 million was ‘Unbroken,’ the Angelina Jolie-directed drama about Louis Zamperini, an Olympic athlete taken captive by the Japanese during World War II.