The Chris Kyle biopic, directed by Clint Eastwood, brought in more than $90 million during its nationwide opening.
"This is staggering. It's blockbuster numbers in January, the sort of numbers usually reserved for summer films and superhero movies," Paul Dergarabedian, senior analyst for Rentrak, told USA Today. "No one saw this coming. The film has been building an audience and blasting any projections all weekend."
Previously "Avatar" held the title after bringing in $68 million during its opening weekend in 2010. It is also the top-grossing winter film, eclipsing the previous record holder, "The Passion of the Christ," which brought in nearly $84 million during its opening weekend in 2004. According to USA Today, Warner Bros., the production company behind the movie, estimated that "American Sniper" will make an additional $15 million over the long weekend.
"American Sniper," which has grossed nearly $119 million total, as it was released in just a few markets on Dec. 25, was further buoyed by the Oscar nominations it earned last week.
The film was nominated six awards, including best picture and a best actor nod for Cooper.