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    "American Sniper" Passes "Mockingjay – Part 1" As 2014's Top Grossing Film

    The Clint Eastwood film made just 0.4% of its $337.2 million domestic gross in 2014.

    Keith Bernstein / Warner Bros.

    Box office records can often seem fleeting and dubious, but this is an extreme example: American Sniper made an estimated $4.5 million this weekend, which was enough to surpass The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 as the top grossing 2014 film in the U.S., with an estimated $337.2 million total gross at the domestic box office.

    Director Clint Eastwood's Oscar-winning movie about real-life Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) can claim this title, however, because it played for seven days in four theaters in 2014 for an Academy Award-qualifying run, grossing $1.3 million in the process. It subsequently expanded to a wide release in 3,555 theaters on Jan. 16, 2015, to astronomic box office grosses.

    To put that in perspective, as of Mar. 8, just 0.394% of American Sniper's U.S. grosses were made in the 2014 calendar year.

    Adam B. Vary for BuzzFeed / Via boxofficemojo.com

    The rest, roughly $335.9 million, or 99.61%, was made in 2015.

    That is still technically enough, however, for Sniper to leapfrog both Mockingjay – Part 1 and Guardians of the Galaxy to be counted as the movie from 2014 that made the most money in the U.S. (Internationally, American Sniper still lags significantly behind both films, with $163 million from 57 markets.)

    By comparison, Mockingjay – Part 1 made 93% of its $337 million domestic gross in 2014.

    Adam B. Vary for BuzzFeed / Via boxofficemojo.com

    Total: $336,962,000

    2014: $313,282,914 (93%)

    2015: $23,679,086 (7%)

    Indeed, it is rare for a film released in December in wide release to become that year's top grossing film — just four other movies have earned that honor since 1988.

    On Dec. 18, 2009, Avatar opened in 3,452 theaters to begin a truly record-setting run as the highest grossing movie of all time — the majority of which was accomplished in 2010.

    Adam B. Vary for BuzzFeed / Via boxofficemojo.com

    Total: $749,766,139

    2009: $283,624,210 (37.8%)

    2010: $466,141,929 (62.2%)

    While most of The Lord of Rings: The Return of the King's grosses were banked in the first 15 days after its Dec. 17, 2003 release.

    Adam B. Vary for BuzzFeed / Via boxofficemojo.com

    Total: $377,027,325

    2003: $249,445,927 (66.2%)

    2004: $127,581,398 (33.8%)

    On Dec. 19, 1997, Titanic opened to a respectable $28.6 million for the weekend — and then it remained the No. 1 grossing film for a record 15 consecutive weekends, making over 80% of its grosses in 1998.

    Adam B. Vary for BuzzFeed / Via boxofficemojo.com

    Total: $600,788,188

    1997: $112,594,173 (18.7%)

    1998: $488,194,015 (81.3%)

    Opening Dec. 16, Rain Man's year-over-year split is virtually the same as Titanic's, but for different reasons. It continued to expand through Jan. and Feb. of 1989, and earned boosts after landing eight Oscar nominations, and then winning Best Picture.

    Adam B. Vary for BuzzFeed / Via boxofficemojo.com

    Total: $172,825,435

    1988: $35,281,448 (20.4%)

    1989: $137,543,987 (79.6%)

    Still, American Sniper's accomplishment here, like so much of its improbable box office run at the outset of the year, is without precedent in modern Hollywood.

    Warner Bros.

    In this case, the film's designation as 2014's top grossing film will likely always carry an asterisk noting how little the film actually played in 2014. But that doesn't make the film's box office run — the best in both Eastwood's and Cooper's careers — any less impressive.

    Here are the estimated top 10 box office figures for Friday to Sunday, courtesy of Box Office Mojo:

    1. Chappie* — $13.3 million

    2. Focus — $10 million

    3. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel* — $8.6 million

    4. Kingsman: The Secret Service — $8.3 million

    5. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water — $7 million

    6. Fifty Shades of Grey — $5.6 million

    7. McFarland, USA — $5.3 million

    8. The Lazarus Effect — $5.1 million

    9. The DUFF — $4.9 million

    10. Unfinished Business* — $4.8 million

    *Opening weekend

    This story has been updated to reflect the most current international grosses for American Sniper.

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