While some critics have been quite harsh on Clint Eastwood's latest endeavor American Sniper, a biopic that follows the rise of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, America's deadliest sharpshooter, audiences have a different opinion. The film has broken January's biggest box office opening record, pulling in an estimated $30.5 million on Friday, (a number that includes Thursday previews). This is also a new record for Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, and it could be the biggest January weekend opening of all time.

American Sniper debuted Christmas Day in just four theaters, taking in a very impressive $633,456. Yesterday, it expanded into 3,555 theaters, kicking off a great start to the New Year. With it's $30.1 million, it's not only the biggest January opening, beating Cloverfield's $17 million back in 2008, it is also the biggest single day in January, besting the record held by James Cameron's Avatar, which pulled in $25.8 million on January 2, 2010.

Those aren't the only records the movie has bested. American Sniper is also the biggest opening for any Clint Eastwood directed movie, beating Gran Torino, which earned $29.5 million when it opened wide in 2009. It is also speculated that American Sniper will gross almost twice as much as Clint Eastwood's most recent efforts in just a single weekend.

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American Sniper earned 6 Oscar nominations this past Thursday, which may have helped its push at the box office, grabbing nods for Best Picture and Best Actor for Bradley Cooper. The film currently holds a 73% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is basically a C. Some have loudly barked at Clint Eastwood's use of a very fake baby in one particularly notorious scene. But that hasn't stopped audiences from awarding it an A+ CinemaScore. This is a sign that the movie will have strong legs throughout the holiday weekend. While its hard to estimate just how much the movie will have pulled in by Monday, some speculate that it could be as high as $95 million. We'll have the full numbers for you on Sunday.

B. Alan Orange at Movieweb
B. Alan Orange