"American Sniper" was originally slated for a December 2015 release, but director Clint Eastwood finished editing it early, and it managed to still become the top domestic earner for the year after its December 2014 release, Variety reports. The drama based on the autobiography of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, a sharpshooter during the Iraq War played by Bradley Cooper, earned $337.2 million in the U.S.
Although Warner Bros. distribution executive vice president Jeff Goldstein called Kyle's story "heroic" and claimed that no matter one's politics, "it’s a story that just touched everybody personally," according to Variety, "American Sniper" had its critics.
On his HBO show "Real Time with Bill Maher," comedian/political commentator Maher compared "American Sniper" unfavorably to "Hurt Locker," the 2008 film also about a sniper during the Iraq war that earned Kathryn Bigelow an Oscar for best director. "'Hurt Locker' made $17 million because it was a little ambiguous, and thoughtful,” Maher said. “And this one was just, ‘American hero! He’s a psychopath patriot, and we love him.’ ”
Maher also read controversial quotes from Kyle's autobiography, on which the film is based, according to the Daily Beast, which include Kyle calling Iraqis "damn savages" and writing, "Maybe war isn't really fun, but I certainly was enjoying it."
Although "American Sniper" can't beat the $1.1 billion earned globally by “Transformers: Age of Extinction," it's made $140 million overseas, making it the top earner of Eastwood's career, Variety reports.