Yesterday wasn’t a holiday – Valentine’s Day today and Presidents Day on Monday fit that bill – but the celebrations started early at theaters with two new films both opening to great numbers. “Fifty Shades of Grey” (Universal) as expected posted a huge number ($30.2 million, including $8.6 Thursday night), but “Kingsman: The Secret Service” (20th Century Fox) was hardly beaten down, coming in a strong second with $10.5 million (mostly yesterday). Together, the Top Ten totaled around $60 million, way up from $26 million last year, when Valentine’s Day fell on Friday.
The “Shades” number stands as a record for a February opening day record, beating “The Passion of the Christ” ($26.6 million), but with huge caveats – the latter opened on a Wednesday in 2004, ticket prices lower and had no previous night “previews” included in its figure. “Shades”‘ poor C+ Cinemascore will have some impact, but some context here is needed. Some divisive films manage to survive that response (“The Wolf of Wall Street” did fine with the same grade), and more importantly, Valentine’s Day on a Saturday is a potential gold mine for any top film, let alone one so relationship centered (albeit in this case outside usual genre parameters). Today had more than 40% of the presale ticket purchases as of midweek, so don’t expect this to be a one-day wonder. How high the four-day weekend climbs remains an open question. Top-end predictions of $100 million here and elsewhere look out of reach, though $90 million (far above most, including Universal’s, estimates) is possible.
“Kingman” though not quite at the same level, is also way over expectations, not the least including that star Colin Firth has not remotely had any box office draw as a lead actor since his Oscar-winning “The King’s Speech.” It looks to have captured a combination of older but also some action audience viewers. Both it and “Shades” are both having equally strong or better initial international responses.
Third and fourth places are taken by last week’s top two. “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” (Paramount) took in $6.5 million, with its matinee boost over the next three days looking to put it near $100 million after only two weekends. “American Sniper” (Warner Bros.) added $3.8 million and should reach $300 million by tomorrow.
Last week’s two duds both fell 60% or more from their tepid starts. Taking fifth and sixth places, “Jupiter Ascending” (Warner Bros.) managed $2 million, while “Seventh Son” (Universal) only grossed $848,000. “Paddington” and “The Imitation Game” (both Weinstein) both landed around $800,000. “The Wedding Ringer” (Sony) and “Black or White” (Relativity) rounded out the Top Ten, both about $600,000.