It's hard not to make tacky battle/war/victory analogies when talking about the success of Clint Eastwood-directed "American Sniper" over the weekend. So let's just say: It earned far, far more than the competition.
And just like that, Sniper is the second-biggest success in Eastwood's directorial career, only about $50 million behind 2008's "Gran Torino." For a movie that's been out for just a few days, that's not too bad. (You can credit politics.)
Here's Eastwood's upper tier. But notice that second button.
When you adjust into 2014 ticket sales (adjusting, essentially, for the prices of tickets over time), "Sniper" drops to 11th — with 1992's "Unforgiven" in the lead. But Eastwood only needs a few more weekends of box office dominance for "Sniper" to take the all-time lead.
Good for Clint. How does "Sniper" compare to its peers in the war genre?
We pulled data on a number of well-known war movies (for which box office data was available) to see how it stacked up. "Sniper" is still young and is going up against some of the best-regarded movies of all time: "Platoon," "Saving Private Ryan," "Full Metal Jacket," Ben Affleck's "Pearl Harbor." (That last one is a joke!)
Movies that come out closer to the wars they depict seem to do a little better, though that's just an observation. Here we've grouped them by how close the movie appeared to the end of the conflict that it depicts.
Part of the reason we say that is that we cherry-picked movies that had done well, for the most part — and because 1957's "Bridge on the River Kwai," which came out relatively shortly after World War II, fares the best in 2014 ticket sales. That conversion isn't totally fair; the movie didn't make all of its money in 1957. And the overall take from "American Sniper" in actual dollars is already higher than what "Bridge" — or even runner-up "M*A*S*H" — earned.
But still. "Sniper" is one or two weeks old (depending on whether or not you're an Academy voter). It could continue to explode in popularity, setting new standards across the board. It could open big and then calm down.
If we had to bet? "American Sniper" will do better than "Pearl Harbor." And not only because of Affleck.