The film, which blew away box-office expectations with a superhero-sized $107 million over the four-day weekend, was in many ways an old-fashioned kind of Hollywood hit: It was built on star-power (Bradley Cooper and Eastwood), Oscar buzz (6 nominations including best picture) and a largely adult audience (63 percent over 25 years old).
The success has made the latest film from the 84-year-old director — his second in half a year — a flashpoint in Hollywood, Washington D.C. and everywhere in between, sweeping “American Sniper” into the culture wars Eastwood has sometimes engaged.
Certainly, the huge wide-release opening wouldn’t have been possible without the strong support of a seldom-catered-to demographic: PATRIOTS. Dan Fellman, head of domestic distribution for Warner Bros., called patriot embrace of the film “huge,” noting it’s an audience difficult to court.
“The audience watched this movie not as a war movie but as a movie about patriotism, a movie about a hero, a movie about family, a movie about serving our country,” said Fellman. “And it struck a chord right across the board.”[…]
“Teens and young adults are abandoning the multiplexes in larger numbers,” said Pandya. “What you’re seeing is that older folks, mature adults, are making up a larger and larger percentage of the box office. If there are quality films aimed at that audience, they’re doing gangbusters left and right.”
Few expect the rise of “American Sniper” to push it to Oscar victory. But with box-office receipts heading to well over $200 million in North America, the effect of “American Sniper” will likely be — as all things successful in Hollywood are — endlessly copied.