Like a sniper’s bullet, no one saw this coming.
It’s on track to become perhaps the second-highest-grossing R-rated film of all time and the second-highest-grossing film about a real person.
The question on everyone’s mind is, “How did this happen?” Especially when other movies about modern-day warfare haven’t had such strong starts out of the gate — even those with a similar awards-season pedigree, such as “Zero Dark Thirty.” (“Sniper” was nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Bradley Cooper.)
Here are five reasons that help explain the “American Sniper” phenomenon.
1. That trailer!
It’s easy to dismiss film marketing as window dressing, but whether we want to admit it or not, it often has a huge impact on how audiences perceive a film and whether they deem it interesting, exciting or different enough to run out and see the first weekend.
Clearly, lots and lots of people felt the story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle was a worthy subject. But much of the audiences’ urge to see the flick probably stemmed from the first trailer released by studio Warner Bros.
Instead of the usual quick-cut montage of action scenes, the teaser featured a snippet from one tense scene. Kyle (Cooper) is positioned on a rooftop in an Iraq war zone, staring through a rifle scope as an American convoy rolls through the streets beneath. Suddenly, an Iraqi man with a cellphone appears on his balcony across the street. Does Kyle shoot? A door to another house opens, and a mother and young son appear. The boy begins walking toward the American convoy. Does Kyle shoot now? “They’ll fry you if you’re wrong,” Kyle’s spotter says.
Of course, if you’ve seen the film, you know how this scene resolves, and how the trailer suggests a higher degree of moral hand-wringing than is perhaps shown in the actual film. But still, what a way to get ticket buyers into seats.
“It was a very unusual trailer,” Warner Bros. marketing head Sue Kroll told the LA Times. “It was quite spare and quiet and designed to be very emotional and provocative. That was the declarative moment for us where people started to understand that this movie was maybe not what they thought it would be.”
“American Sniper” was also equally aimed at men and women — unusual for a war picture, where young men are often the box-office bread and butter. Warner Bros. calculated (apparently correctly) that emphasizing the emotional side of Kyle’s story would attract women.
“It doesn’t just focus on the combat and the battle,” says Angie Ricketts, author of the memoir “No Man’s War: Irreverent Confessions of an Infantry Wife.” “ ‘American Sniper’ is more about Chris Kyle as a person and a father and a husband. Maybe that’s what makes it more relatable to the average person. Everybody has a family and can relate to the interpersonal conflicts more than someone can relate to losing their team on a mountain in Afghanistan.”
2. People like the militaryAn “American Sniper” film posterWarner Bros
The military often sits at the top of the list when it comes to institutions that Americans express confidence in. (Guess where Congress ranks.) Last year, 74 percent of citizens had “a great deal of confidence” in the military, according to Gallup.
Since 1989, the military has been No. 1 on the list every year except one. (Prior to 1989, the church or organized religion typically finished first.)
Viewers will pony up cash to see movies with stars they like, so why not movies about institutions they like? Those who’d seen “American Sniper” awarded it an A+ CinemaScore. (For comparison’s sake, “Paddington” received an A and “The Wedding Ringer” an A-.)
3. People like Bradley Cooper . . .Bradley Cooper on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”Theo Wargo/NBC/Getty Images
He’s one of the top stars working today with a Q score of 22 — meaning his appeal is above average. His current run as “The Elephant Man” on Broadway is the season’s hottest show, and his “Guardians of the Galaxy” was last year’s highest-grossing movie, with a domestic total of more than $333 million.
Cooper has also done lots of work with the USO, traveling overseas, visiting VA hospitals and ingratiating himself with the military. No surprise the target (ha!) audience for “American Sniper” likes and accepts him.
4. . . . and some people like Clint EastwoodBradley Cooper and director Clint Eastwood on set.Keith Bernstein/Warner Bros
The elderly director might have lost a few fans after his bizarre rant to an empty chair at the 2012 Republican National Convention, but those who defected are less likely to be members or strong supporters of the military, who tend to be more conservative than the population at large.
“We really do revere the celebrities and movie-makers and writers who dare to tell our story and try to tell it in an authentic way,” Ricketts says. “He’s Clint Eastwood, so who better? My dad’s a Vietnam vet and reveres Clint Eastwood. I really can’t think of anyone better to make a movie like that.”
5. WB got the military involvedBradley Cooper as Chris Kyle and Sienna Miller as Taya Renae Kyle in “American Sniper.”Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
It’s a tried-and-true Hollywood strategy: When you’ve got a product you think will appeal to a niche market, it pays to get that market on board early. The gambit can help drive word of mouth, and more important, avoid a potential backlash. Religious-themed films, including “The Passion of the Christ,” are often driven by church outreach, for example.
“Warner Bros. reached out to us and made it a priority to make sure the military community was feeling good about this movie,” says Rachael Murray, director of entertainment at the USO of Metropolitan New York, which held an “American Sniper” screening at Brooklyn’s Fort Hamilton. “They really wanted it to sit well within the military community. I think there’s been a push to make sure the community is engaged and involved.”
Source : https://nypost.com/2015/01/21/5-reasons-why-american-sniper-hit-the-box-office-bulls-eye/