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‘Fifty Shades’ makes box office its valentine

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‘Fifty Shades’ makes box office its valentine

February 16
00:01 2015

The only real box office question on Valentine’s Day weekend was just how high the R-rated Fifty Shades of Grey would go. The answer Sunday morning was a resounding $81.7 million for the three-day weekend, according to studio estimates. The film is predicted to take in $90.7 million for the four-day Presidents Day holiday. The record-setting began with Friday’s $30 million opening, the biggest for any film released in February (beating out 2004′s The Passion of the Christ with $26.6 million).635588373274457815-Fifty001

Fifty Shades easily became the highest-grossing Valentine’s/Presidents Day weekend opener of all time, beating out the 2010 romantic comedy Valentine’s Day, which earned $56.3 million in three days and $63.1 million in four. It’s also the second-biggest February weekend debut ever, behind The Passion of Christ at $84 million. “It has lived up to the hype. It was perfectly marketed, the perfect release date and a little controversy didn’t hurt either,” says Paul Dergarabedian, senior analyst for Rentrak. “Controversy and sex sell. Fifty Shades started a conversation.”

Fifty Shades has made instant stars of Dakota Johnson, as curious student Anastasia Steele, and Jamie Dornan, as kinky billionaire Christian Grey. Crowds filled multiplexes nationwide to watch the film, despite the critical pounding (26% approval rating) it received on Audiences graded the film a lowly C-plus on CinemaScore. Fifty Shades opened huge overseas as well, with an estimated $158 million, which sets a record for the biggest R-rated opening internationally.

Seemingly bypassed in the Fifty Shades hoopla was the impressive performance of Kingsman: The Secret Service, which earned $35.6 million for three days and an estimated $41 million for the four-day weekend. Matthew Vaughn’s action-filled look at a top-secret and very gentlemanly government agency, starring Colin Firth and Samuel L. Jackson, received a 71% critical rating on Audiences graded it a B-plus on CinemaScore.

“Under most circumstances, Kingsman’s numbers are enough to be No. 1. But not this weekend. Fifty Shades is just a juggernaut. A huge global hit,” says Phil Contrino, analyst for The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, last weekend’s box office champ, moved to third place this weekend. It earned $30.5 million for three days, with $37.6 million expected for the four-day weekend and a total of $100.7 million.

American Sniper earned fourth as it passed the $300 million mark. Clint Eastwood’s R-rated drama took $16.4 million for the three-day weekend with $304 million total. According to Rentrak, the film is now the third-highest-grossing film released in 2014, behind The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 and Guardians of the Galaxy. Rounding out the top five was Lana and Andy Wachowski’s Jupiter Ascending, which took $9.4 million, for $32.6 million total since opening last weekend.