News Nuggets: 5 reasons for ‘American Sniper’ record-shattering January box office

American Sniper” shatters January box office records with a blazing $90.2 million debut this weekend. For veteran director Clint Eastwood, the biopic of U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle is by far his best opening numbers after “Gran Torino” brought in $29.5 million in 2008. Reasons for the unexpected numbers are: heartland passion, Oscar bump with nods for Best Picture and Best Actor (Bradley Cooper), extra boost from Imax screenings, stars aligning withe Cooper hire, and a slow-burn rollout after a limited Christmas release. In the second spot is new comedy “The Wedding Ringer” starring Kevin Hart and Josh Gad with $21 million. The third position is held by family movie “Paddington” with $19.3 million. The Wrap

Watch a fun new video as actress Betty White has an emotional reaction to a surprise birthday celebration. Her “Hot in Cleveland” cast and crew shock her with an instant Hawaiian-themed flashmob as she rides in a golf cart at the studio. The 93th birthday salute includes appearances by Valerie Bertinelli, Wendie Malick, Jane Leeves, and Garry Marshall. E! Online

American Sniper’ reviews and comments – Click here to give your reactions

For the first time ever, you can attend the Razzie Awards in person. Tickets are available for just $25 each to the general public for the infamous event scheduled for February 21. The 35th annual event celebrates the worst of the year for films and performances. The 2014 nominees for Worst Picture are: “Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas,” “Left Behind,” “The Legend of Hercules,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” and “Transformers: Age of Extinction.” Razzies

FX Networks CEO John Landgraf declares that his network is just as good as HBO “despite not having the same cachet.” At a TCA event on Sunday, he showed a pie chart showing that both networks are in a neck-and-neck finish among top critical reviews for 2014. He says, “HBO is not the runaway leader anymore. FX has broken out of the pack.” Major FX shows this past year included “Fargo,” “American Horror Story: Freak Show,” “Louie,” “The Americans,” “Justified,” “The Bridge,” and “Justified.” Deadline

‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’ – Click here to comment in our forums

Actress Emmy Rossum (“Shameless“) will host this year’s Costume Designers Guild Awareds. The event will take place on February 17 at the Beverly Hilton. Richard Linklater will receive the Distinguished Collaborator Award for his film career. Harrison Ford will present a career achievemetn award to Aggie Guerard Rodgers. Variety

To celebrate her Screen Actors Guild life achievement award, TCM will air a marathon of Debbie Reynolds movies on January 22. The lineup will include “Singin’ in the Rain,” “The Catered Affair,” “The Mating Game,” “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” and “Mary, Mary.” Reynolds receives the SAG Awards honor on January 25 from her daughter Carrie Fisher. Broadway World

What are the four things you need to know before watching the Whitney Houston biopic this week on Lifetime? The movie is directed by Angela Bassett and is way more about her ex-husband Bobby Brown than expected. The sex scenes are raunchy. They use alternate singer Deborah Cox for the big tunes because Houston’s family had no interest in allowing her voice on the telefilm. Her death in 2012 is not included. USA Today

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