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Clint Eastwood is glad 'American Sniper' is an alternative to superhero movies

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Clint Eastwood after receiving an award for his contribution to cinema during the Lumiere 2009 Film Festival in Lyon
Clint Eastwood after receiving an award for his contribution to cinema during the Lumiere 2009 Film Festival in Lyon

"American Sniper" has become the top grossing movie released in 2014. The director talks about its success and why he thinks the film resonates with audiences.

For the first time since Steven Spielberg’s 1998 film, “Saving Private Ryan,” an R-rated drama has topped the yearly box office charts — and with a budget that’s a fraction of the fantasy and superhero movies that have been dominating ticket sales for more than a decade.

Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper,” made for $60 million, set the mark on Sunday. The movie with Bradley Cooper as the late sniper Chris Kyle has grossed more than $337 million at the box office, more than any other release from last year. The biopic passed “Guardians of the Galaxy” and the last “Hunger Games” sequel over the weekend.

The Frame's John Horn spoke with Clint Eastwood at the Sun Valley Film Festival in Idaho this past Saturday, where he was receiving the festival’s Vision Award. Horn asked Eastwood about how he felt about making the top-grossing movie released in 2014, why it connected with audiences and how he feels now that the trial against Chris Kyle's murderer is over: 


You are about to have the number one movie released in 2014. How does that make you feel? 

I'm glad to see adults having a chance to go to a movie and that it doesn't always have to be comic book stuff.

This film has played well throughout the country, specifically in the Midwest and South, which Hollywood tends to ignore. What does that mean to you on how people are responding to this film? 

It's hard to say, but this one seem to touch everybody in different ways. It got a lot of people out who haven't gone to movies in a while, and a lot of people who do go to movies and get a chance to see something other than a superhero movie. I have nothing against superhero movies. I grew up on Superman and all that stuff, but once you've seen... how many of those could you... 

Your movie is setting these records just as the person who killed Chris Kyle is brought to justice. How do you feel about the end of that trial? 

Well, I'm glad that's over for the family and everybody concerned. It's an unpleasant moment in history and as that trial was going on, they kept running trailers of the movie. I didn't want people to think the movie was part of that. 

I never got to know Chris Kyle, because he was murdered, but I did get to know his family — his mother, his father, his wife and the kids — and it's a terrific family. I'm just sorry that [the trial] had to coincide with the celebration of him. 

You've had your most successful film of your career at the ripe old age of... I don't even want to guess. How old are you now? 

I'm, um, 54...

54. My age as well. What does it mean to have such success this far into your career. 

I'm 84. There's probably some kind record in that, too. Who knows? 

What's next for you? 

I don't know. I did two pictures this last year, back to back, and I decided that maybe I should take a little rest. So I ended up taking six months off, but I'm also now starting to read again and I've got a few good possibilities. [I'll] see what cooks. 

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