"American Sniper" is breaking box office records, but the movie is also generating drama off-screen.
The film raked in $105 million in four days, the largest-ever opening weekend for a drama. The commercial success followed critical acclaim in the form of six Oscar nominations, including for Best Picture, and Best Actor for Bradley Cooper, who plays Chris Kyle, the real-life Navy SEAL with the most kills in U.S. history.
The movie, directed by Clint Eastwood, is stirring up conversation about whether it glorifies a hero or a killer. A billboard in Los Angeles was spray-painted with the word “murder.”
Comedian Seth Rogen and filmmaker Michael Moore both appeared to take aim at the movie on social media. Rogen wrote that the "American Sniper" reminded him of a scene about Nazi propaganda in the film "Inglourious Basterds."
American Sniper kind of reminds me of the movie that's showing in the third act of Inglorious Basterds.— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) January 18, 2015
Moore discussed his uncle being killed by a sniper in World War II.
“We were taught snipers were cowards,” he wrote.
My uncle killed by sniper in WW2. We were taught snipers were cowards. Will shoot u in the back. Snipers aren't heroes. And invaders r worse— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) January 18, 2015
Both Rogen and Moore later suggested that their comments were taken out of context, but the implication was enough to raise the hackles of other celebrities and politicians.
“He’s kidding, right?” actor Rob Lowe responded to Moore’s statements.
Sarah Palin, meanwhile, slammed “Hollywood leftists” on Facebook, but also thanked Cooper and Eastwood for “respecting the United States military.”
While the controversy rages, Kyle’s widow, Taye Kyle, said she’s proud of her late husband and Cooper’s role portraying him.
“The heart of the man, the ability to laugh through it all, Bradley captured all of it,” she said.