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'American Sniper' takes the Friday box office by surprise

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American Sniper
Warner Bros

American Sniper continues its surprise box office success. Following its remarkable $3.4 million gross across only four screens, the film’s first day in wide release has made it look like a blockbuster, earning $30.5 million on Friday.

If American Sniper keeps on pace through Monday, it’ll make $75-80 million over the four-day holiday weekend. As The Hollywood Reporter notes, that would make the movie about the life of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle the largest January opening of all time, easily beating the previous record holder, Kevin Hart’s Ride Along, which opened at $41.5 million on the same weekend a year ago.

Sniper‘s profile has risen significantly this week following the announcement of this year’s Academy Award nominees. The film is in the running for six Oscars, including Best Picture. However, the film, directed by Clint Eastwood, remains contentious among critics—see Chris Nashawaty’s take in his EW review.

Another box office surprise: Paddington‘s third place spot with $4.7 million earned on Friday. Saturday is where the family movie will shine, likely giving the current number two spot—Kevin Hart’s The Wedding Ringer, which has sold $7.4 million in ticketsa serious run.

Rounding out the top five is Taken 3 with $4,250,000, and Selma, with $2,360,000.