The people have spoken, and chemistry-free S&M-lite is the order of the day. Universal knew what they were doing with this one, and really it’s a hard one to mess up. Terribly received material, you say? Hello, over 100 million copies of “Fifty Shades Of Grey” sold across the globe, mediocre material be damned (read our review). This was the most talked-about film in recent memory, so audiences flocked to the adaptation of E.L. James’ novel. Uni’s movie scored $81.6 million, opening domestically this past weekend. That’s the 5th highest R-rated opening of all time and the biggest box-office opening for a female director ever. Globally, the phenomenon traveled, too: “Fifty Shades Of Grey” grossed $158 million internationally, making for a global opening weekend haul of $239 million worldwide. Not too shabby.
You can pretty much guarantee a sequel is moving forward. Whether director Sam Taylor-Johnson comes back is almost irrelevant; a follow-up will make bank, whoever’s at the helm. And considering how much say E.L. James had in the first installment — the entire bad plot, empty motivations and unbelievable behavior intact — why would Taylor-Johnson want to come back for this thankless gig? The question will be whether both leads will return. Dakota Johnson has received great notices for her ineffectual, guileless and mousy character, who isn’t quite sure why she likes to be bossed around or hit, but she’ll find out eventually, right? But blocks of wood have received better reviews than Jamie Dornan. Time will tell, though it would obviously be the studio’s call, as everyone’s under contract. It’s perhaps surprising/not surprising that another best-seller phenomenon, “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” didn’t take off in the same way. Perhaps audiences didn’t care for an actual dark and unflinching take on dark and unflinching material and preferred the faux-dangerous approach of ‘Fifty Shades.’
Doing surprisingly strong business in the face of the ‘Fifty Shades’ competition was 20th Century Fox’s “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” which racked up a strong $35 million in its opening weekend — likely much higher than many had thought when Fox bumped it to February last fall. Worldwide, the movie took in an almost $80 million that basically covers its budget in one weekend, so the movie will likely continue to climb to healthy figures.
It really was a super healthy box-office overall — “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” took in another $30 million in its second week of release, and in its eighth week of release, “American Sniper” took in another $16 million. Clint Eastwood‘s war movie only fell 29.4% from last week and still hasn’t fallen out of the top five after six weeks of wide release. Having grossed $304 million domestically so far, “American Sniper” is the third highest grossing film of 2014. If this kind of trajectory continues (more than $15 million in its eighth week? Kind of insane), it should be able to surpass “Guardians Of The Galaxy” and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” as the highest grossing movie of last year.
In week two, “Jupiter Ascending” held on much stronger than one would assume. The movie only took in a 48.7% drop, and while $32 million domestically so far off a $180 million budget still screams financial disaster, it’s clear there’s a little devoted core audience here; most films with this kind of opening weekend and poor reviews plummet in week two.
In week two, Legendary‘s “Seventh Son” shows very little sign of recouping, despite another semi-small 42.5% drop. The movie cost $95 million without advertising and has only grossed $13 million at home so far. Legendary saw the writing on the wall for this film ages ago and took their write-off last year. Elsewhere, “Paddington,” “The Imitation Game” and “The Wedding Ringer” are still holding on quite well. “The Imitation Game” has almost grossed $80 million at home and $156 million worldwide, so this is a big hit for The Weinstein Company, regardless of whether it sneaks in any Oscar wins next weekend (there probably won’t be many key ones, aside from Best Adapted Screenplay). Rounding out the box-office is Paramount‘s “Project Almanac” which has failed to crack $20 million in three weeks of release and likely will be gone from the top 10 by next week.
Next week are the Oscars, but “American Sniper” and “The Imitation Game” — which, again, probably won’t win much — are still overshadowing most of the Oscar frontrunners. “Birdman” still hasn’t cracked $40 million, “Boyhood” sits at $25 million and “Grand Budapest Hotel” is perched at almost $60 million. One of these three will likely be your Best Picture winner next weekend, unless “Selma” ($48 million) can pull off a miracle.
In limited release, “What We Do in the Shadows” put up good opening weekend numbers ($32,900 per screen average), and “The Last Five Years” ($15,033 PSA) performed well, too.
1. Fifty Shades of Grey — $81,670,000
2. Kingsman: The Secret Service — $35,600,000
3. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water — $30,540,000 ($93,673,000)
4. American Sniper — $16,435,000 ($304,133,000)
5. Jupiter Ascending — $9,430,000 ($32,551,000)
6. Seventh Son — $4,153,000 ($13,423,000)
7. Paddington — $4,150,000 ($62,343,000)
8. The Imitation Game — $3,525,000 ($79,657,000)
9. The Wedding Ringer — $3,400,000 ($59,743,000)
10. Project Almanac — $2,730,000 ($19,560,000)