ByJerome Maida, writer at
Jerome Maida

After an extremely strong, record-breaking January, "American Sniper" has a domestic box-office total of $250 million as of February 2, 2015.

However, a huge plunge on Sunday due to the super Bowl and harsh weather in the Northeast seems to have sapped a little of the Clint Eastwood film's momentum Not much, but enough to prevent it from being a lock to reach $350 million - and pass "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1" as the top 2014 release at the domestic box-office.

However, I still feel it is extremely likely that "American Sniper" does accumulate the $100 million necessary to hit the $350 million mark and assure it the top spot for the year. "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1" is still grossing money at a slow trickle and has hit the $335 million mark domestically.

Here's reasons why:

1.) There is still intense interest in this film, as evidenced by it's very small 28% drop from it's first weekend to it's second.

2.) There was a larger-than expected drop of 53% from the second weekend to the third. But that can be summed up by a large segment of the American population - especially the demographic most likely to see this movie - choosing to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday

3.) Even hampered by the Super Bowl this past weekend, "American Sniper" added $30.7 million, which fell just shy of a new record for Super Bowl weekend behind Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour ($31.1 million). It's $30.7 million ranks 21st all-time among third weekends, even going up against Tom Brady and Company.

4.) It's tremendous word of mouth means pent-up demand will likely have it suffer another small drop this coming weekend, as those who wanted to see it Super Bowl weekend decide to finally see it - or see it again.

5.) It has INCREASED screens the past two weekends and set a record for an R-Rated film this Super Bowl weekend with 3,885 theaters, up from 3,555 it's first weekend in wide release two weeks ago.

6.) Toss in the fact that January has seen some historical bombs, that should allow "American Sniper" to keep most of it's screens for a while. Like "Blackhat", whose absolutely horrible $3.9 million opening weekend on 2,568 screens on January 16-18, saw it's theater count slashed by an astounding 2,332, or 93% this past weekend. Toss in the fact that "Mortdecai" had an almost equally horrendous $4.2 million opening weekend January 23-25 in 2, 648 theaters and it's highly likely that film sheds theaters quickly too.

7.) So should "Strange Magic", which opened to one of the all-time worst opening weekends domestically for a film that opened in over 3,000 theaters., with a $5.5 million opening weekend January 23-25 in 3,020 theaters. That is guaranteed to lose at least 1,000 theaters this weekend.

8.) Toss in additional January bombs like "Project Almanac" and "Black or White"; hits running on fumes like "Into the Woods" and "Unbroken", films that are downright moldy like "Horrible Bosses 2" and even with three new films with potential opening this weekend and the usual push to expand the theater count of Oscar contenders, and "American Sniper" should still be dominating theater space for a few weeks..especially with a per theater average up to ten times as much as other "hits"...Which brings up...

9.) This is still the weakest crop of Best Picture Nominees in years in regards to box-office. The only other Oscar contender besides "American Sniper" that seems to be drawing ticket buyers and building momentum is "The Imitation Game".

10.) Having crushed action films like "Taken 3" and "Blackhat" in January, this weekend's new offerings all have potential upsides and possible problems.

"Jupiter Ascending" has been heavily promoted and has Channing tatum and the Wachowskis behind it. This could be huge, but the Wachowskis haven't had a hit in years and the buzz on this film is mostly negative.

"Seventh Son" seems interesting but again does not seem to be creating a must-see atmosphere, despite heavy marketing and Julianne Moore being involved.

"The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of water" should appeal to families, but there's a question as to whether the character is as popular as he used to be.

All of which means "American Sniper" has at least a shot of finishing first for the fourth week in a row - or at least a strong second.

11.) The Academy Awards are only three weeks away, so just when interest in the film might soften a bit, it will get heightened interest and media attention - and will get another jolt if either it wins Best picture or bradley Cooper wins for Best Actor.

All of which means "Mockingay -Part 1" will likely get it's wings clipped before all is said and done.

What do the rest of you think?


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