According to studio estimates Sunday, the Clint Eastwood film narrowly surpassed the previous top Super Bowl weekend draw. The concert film "Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: The Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour" earned $31.1 million 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 competition was thin, as Hollywood held off any high-profile releases, largely 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-travelling 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 theatres by showing previously aired episodes ahead of the April debut of the show's fifth season.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theatres, according to Rentrak. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. "American Sniper," $31.9 million.
2. "Paddington," $8.5 million.
3. "Project Almanac," $8.5 million.
4. "Black or White," $6.5 million.
5. "The Boy Next Door," $6.1 million.
6. "The Wedding Ringer," $5.7 million.
7. "The Imitation Game," $5.2 million.
8. "Taken 3," $3.7 million.
9. "Strange Magic," $3.4 million.
10. "The Loft," $2.9 million.
Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP