How Did ‘American Sniper’ Manage to Smash All Box-Office Records ?


Last weekend US box-office witnessed record shattering numbers. Culprit : ‘American Sniper’. It caught everyone right from producers of the film to box-office analysts by surprise.

The war-drama was expected to open somewhere between 40M to 60M (that is quite high for a war movie), but ended up grossing 89 million dollars over the weekend and is still carrying a strong momentum, which should allow it to end over 300 million dollars on US domestic box-office alone. Again, to add perspective, even a film like ‘Interstellar’ didn’t manage to achieve that figure. The film set box-office on fire by earning the highest opening weekend ever in the January- February winter period, pumping numbers similar to what one would expect to see in summer blockbuster films.

So the big question is :How did ‘American Sniper’ manage to churn up such massive box-office numbers ?

Interesting Subject

The film explores the life of the most deadliest American sniper (officially recorded 160 killings). Chris Kyle was already a well-known figure among Americans and was known as “Legend” among the military circles. In the film, two sides of Chris Kyle’s life are shown. Firstly, Kyle as the deadly sniper fighting against the arabs for his country and on the flip side, Kyle the common American trying to fit back into a normal lifestyle and keep his relationship stable. Surprisingly, a mix of this American patriotism tangled with complicated relationship problems seems to have hit home with American audiences.

Jingoism and controversy

The movie since its release has had different effects on the viewers with many feeling a stronger hatred towards the Arabs, and another sect of people including me who didn’t necessarily have any change of perception towards the Arabs. However, all of this has generated a lot of talk especially in the social media and consequently the movie has gained wide popularity, primarily in the US.

The Best Trailer of last year and intelligent marketing

Anyone who saw the first trailer of ‘American Sniper’ would know how edge-of-the-seat thrilling it was (You can check it here). It builds and builds the suspense and leaves the audiences wanting for more. On top of a brilliant trailer, Warner Brothers spent a lot on advertising the movie, especially, on news channel catching the attention of the right target audiences.

Released to wider audience just the day after Oscar nominations

The film was released on 16th January (to wider audiences). Oscar nominations, where the film scored 6 Oscar nomination including ‘Best Picture’ and ‘Best Actor’, was announced on 15th January.

But when you compare ‘American Sniper’ with its fellow Best Picture nominees, you will find that it has made more money than ‘Birdman’,’Boyhood’,Whiplash’ and ‘The Theory of Everything’ combined in its first weekend.

It will be  very interesting to see if this will bring forth a new style of commercial films and the effect that the box-office will have on its Oscar chances.