According to studio estimates Sunday, the Clint Eastwood film narrowly surpassed the previous top Super Bowl weekend draw at the North American box office. The concert film "Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: The Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour" opened with $31.1 million against the NFL's big game in 2008.
Hollywood often avoids competing with the Super Bowl as movie-going falls dramatically on Sunday, but "American Sniper" has proven an unlikely sensation. It has now made $248.9 million in six weeks (and only three weeks of wide release), making it the most lucrative war movie without adjusting for inflation. (The distinction was previously held by Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan.")
The film made headlines after Michael Moore tweeted about snipers being cowards and Seth Rogen chimed in with a tweet about "American Sniper" and "Inglourious Basterds." Their comments prompted fellow Hollywood stars Alec Baldwin and Dean Cain to speak up. Rogen later apologized for his remarks.
The competition was thin, as Hollywood held off any high-profile releases, effectively ceding the weekend to football.
The Weinstein Co. animated adaptation "Paddington" came in a distant second with $8.5 million in its third weekend. In a virtual tie with it was Paramount's found-footage, time-traveling thriller "Project Almanac."
Made by Michael Bay's production company, Platinum Dunes, "Project Almanac" led a trio of new releases with modest box-office ambitions.
"Black or White," a racially-charged custody drama that reteams Kevin Costner with "The Upside of Anger" director Mike Binder, opened in fourth with $6.5 million. Costner put up his own money to help finance the film, which Relativity Media distributed.
Open Road's "The Loft," a much-delayed remake of a 2008 Dutch thriller directed by its original filmmaker, Erik Van Looy, attracted little interest. It made just $2.9 million.
That wasn't much more than the $1.5 million pulled in by a package of TV reruns. The HBO series "Game of Thrones" earned that in 205 IMAX theaters by showing previously aired episodes ahead of the April debut of the show's fifth season. A teaser for the new season recently surfaced.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Rentrak. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.