What has now become an annual custom — movies about the War on Terror released in January and do killer business, and which may or may not be misinterpreted as toxic jingoism — continued to pay off. In its third weekend, Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” continued its reign, although its run may be on the wane. After two weekends making Marvel money, it made “merely” $31.9 million in its third, suffering the token 51 percent drop that greets blockbusters on their way out — and on Super Bowl weekend, no less.
Still, that’s a 51 percent drop from a ton of money, and so far “Sniper” — about Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, played by Bradley Cooper — has now grossed $248.9 million. There’s more dough — and more think pieces and creepy Facebook posts from your far-right relatives — to come
Of course, it’s not like “Sniper” had much competition. The biggest competition came from the teen found footage time travel romp “Project Almanac,” which marshaled the powers of social media and youth culture en route to a gross of all of $8.5 million.
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Faring even worse was “Black or White,” a race drama that, advertisements be damned, is not about Kevin Costner as a white savior but is still an insufficiently trenchant commentary released in heady times. It made only $6.5 million — just $2.5 million less than what star Costner paid to make it happen.
In happier news, “Paddington” — an English import about the beloved talking, duffel coat-wearing, marmalade-loving bear — continued to do shockingly decent business, adding another $8.5 million to its $50.5 million cume. In less happy news, the Jennifer Lopez-bangs-a-teen camp thriller “The Boy Next Door” fell to fifth place with only $6.1 million. It will soon find its rightful home as afternoon cable TV fodder and midnight movie sessions.
Will “Sniper” continue to lay waste to future newbies? It remains to be seen. Next weekend sees not one but two delayed sci-fi/fantasy behemoths: the Wachowskis’ pricey “Jupiter Ascending,” which was abruptly yanked from the last summer’s lineup; and “Seventh Son,” in which a super-grizzled Jeff Bridges battles a shape-shifting Julianne Moore, who also has a tail. And there’s a new “SpongeBob” movie, which makes room for a live-action Antonio Banderas. Where each stands on the Iraq War remains to be seen.
Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge