On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 was struck by a flock of geese during takeoff from LaGuardia Airport. The plane’s captain, Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger, successfully brought the plane down in the Hudson River, where all 155 passengers and crew members were evacuated and survived. It was an incredible story, one that played out in real time on the news; I vividly remember being at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and watching the whole rescue play out on television.
There are moments that define a nation. Moments that show us the kind of Americans we really are. Today, we’ve brought shame on our great nation: Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper has surpassed The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 and Guardians of the Galaxy as the highest-grossing film of 2014. How did we let this happen? How did we let a robot baby with an uncanny valley where its face should be defeat Katniss Everdeen and Baby Groot? How?
‘American Sniper’ had a record-shattering weekend at the box office, grossing an astounding $105 million from Friday to Monday. It’s already the second biggest earner of Clint Eastwood’s entire career after ‘Gran Torino,’ and with six Academy Award nominations (and great word-of-mouth) behind it, it’s posed to become his biggest hit ever.
I wonder if Chris Kyle was a Clint Eastwood fan. ‘American Sniper’’s marketing materials describe Kyle as “the most lethal sniper in U.S. history,” but before his military career, Kyle was a cowboy. He wore a hat and boots, and even carried a six-shooter. Eventually, he gave up the cowboy life and decided to serve his country. He was a gifted marksman and trained to be a Navy SEAL. But even as a soldier, Kyle never lost that cowboy swagger—or that sense that someone has to venture out into the frontier and protect the American way of life. That’s what Kyle learned from his father—who raised him to be a “sheepdog,” a watchful protector in a world of sheep and wolves—and from watching violent Westerns like the ones that made Eastwood a major Hollywood star.
Unless your movie was named 'Jersey Boys,' this was a pretty excellent weekend at the box office for all parties involved. A new film opened big in the number one spot, last week's champions held on strong, and others continued to perform well further down the charts. But boy, it really kinda' sucks to be 'Jersey Boys.'