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Feb 1 (Reuters) - Box office juggernaut "American Sniper" held the top spot at U.S. and Canadian box offices over the weekend with $31.9 million in ticket sales, according to studio estimates.
The Oscar-nominated war film directed by Clint Eastwood and starring best actor nominee Bradley Cooper as a Navy Seal sharpshooter easily triumphed over several new releases as it closed in on a domestic total of $250 million since opening on Jan. 16.
Family film "Paddington", based on the series of classic children's books about a loveable bear in search of a home, finished in second with $8.5 million for Friday through Sunday. In a virtual tie, it sold just $5,000 more in tickets than sci-fi time travel tale "Project Almanac," which debuted this weekend with $8.5 million.
"Sniper"'s continued strong performance helped drive overall box office performance on Super Bowl weekend, when many Americans are focused on the final game of the football season. Ticket sales were up about 23 percent from the same weekend a year ago, according to tracking firm Rentrak.
"American Sniper" was released by Warner Brothers, a unit of Time Warner Inc. "Paddington" was released by The Weinstein Company. Paramount, a unit of Viacom Inc., distributed "Project Almanac". (Reporting by Chris Michaud; Editing by Stephen Powell)