Clint Eastwood’s R-rated Iraq War drama “American Sniper” opened in January like a superhero movie in July, taking in a record $105.3 million over the Martin Luther King Jr. four-day weekend.

The film’s unprecedented success obliterated forecasts and set numerous box-office records. It easily surpassed “Avatar” to become the biggest January weekend ever.

The resounding wide-release opening is also tops for the 84-year-old Eastwood, whose previous best weekend was the $29.5 million wide release of 2009’s “Gran Torino. And it, in one weekend, gives the Oscar best-picture race something it was lacking: a big ol’ box-office hit.

“American Sniper, nominated for six Academy Awards, immediately becomes the top grosser of the best-picture nominees. The previous biggest hit was Wes Anderson’s “Grand Budapest Hotel,” which made $59.1 million in its entire run.

This was actually the third week of release for “American Sniper,” which played in just a handful of theatres for two weeks. That slow release pattern helped stoke demand for the film, in which Bradley Cooper stars as Navy SEAL marksman Chris Kyle.

“It’s become a cultural phenomenon,” said Dan Fellman, head of domestic distribution for Warner Bros. “The movie reached an audience that’s very hard to tap into. In both red and blue states, small and large cities, tiny towns – everywhere we went – it broke records.”