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Weekend Box Office: Fifty Shades Spanks Competition, Kingsman Stands Its Ground

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By Chris Kavan - 02/15/15 at 11:10 PM CT

The Valentine's Day box office was set to heat up with the release of Fifty Shades of Grey - and it amounted to a spectacular $196 million for the top 12 films - the largest February weekend on record. Even more impressive for Fifty Shades was the international numbers - more on that below. The other new release, Kingsman: The Secret Service, as well as continued strength from SpongeBob and American Sniper - all helped get to that record weekend.


The worldwide phenomena of Fifty Shades of Grey in book form translated nicely to the big screen. With $81.67 million in the bank, it ranks as the second-largest February opening of all time (behind Passion of the Christ) and the fifth-best for an R-rated film. It also set a new Valentine's Day record with $36.7 million (50% higher than the previous record holder). Compare this to the opening of Twilight (another hugely successful novel with a romance angel) - which opened to $69.6 million. The audience was mostly female (32% male - higher than I was expecting) and also ran a bit younger (42% under 25) than I would have expected. Audiences awarded it just a "C+" Cinemascore, meaning the second weekend is likely to drop fast. But even so - the biggest surprise for Fifty Shades was the international market. It earned $158 million overseas - the second biggest total for Universal Pictures behind Fast and Furious 6) as well as the best single day total for the studio. It set records in 11 markets and, if it stays on track, could become the highest-grossing R-rated film in the international market (currently held by The Matrix Reloaded at $461 million). Domestically, it will likely wind up at around $150 million, though it has an outside chance of hitting $200 million if the audience doesn't drop off too much - but that's asking a lot.


In a nice bit of counter-programming that seems to have paid off, Kingman: The Secret Service opened in second place with a nice $35.6 million total. Given the competition, the opening is very good and right in line with recent action films Taken 3 ($39.2 million) and The Equalizer ($34.1 million). For the President's Day weekend, it should wind up with over $40 million - much better than past films that opened during the same time frame including A Good Day to Die Hard, Constantine and Jumper. With the witty Bond-esque characters and plot, Kingsman was a great option for those not looking for scandalous sadomasochistic romance. Audiences awarded this a "B+" Cinemascore and it is looking at a $100 million total in the long run.


After opening in the top spot last weekend, SpongeBob and Co. took a nearly 45% hit in its second weekend. That's a bit steeper than most family films - The Lego Movie only dropped 28% in its second weekend. That being said, by Monday SpongeBob should be able to top the $100 million mark (it currently stands at $93.7 million) and is well on its way to at least a $150 million total.


The popular Chris Kyle biopic dropped just 29% in its eighth weekend in theaters. It also passed a major milestone as it took in $16.4 million and crossed the $300 million mark with a new total of $304.1 million. It is still on pace to become the highest-grossing film of 2014 with a final tally of around $340 million.


After a rather tepid opening, Jupiter Ascending dipped about 49% and dropped from second to fifth place with $9.43 million. The film has a total of $32.55 million and may have enough gas to cross $50 million - but it's not much consolation for a film that cost $176 million (not including marketing). It's likely going to be one of the biggest losers of they year.

Outside the top five: Julianne Moore has been earning much praise (and awards) for Still Alice - the film expanded this weekend to over 500 theaters and rose from 18th to 13th place with $1.7 million (for a total of $4.6 million). Expect it to get a boost following the Oscars where Moore is the front-runner for best actress.

Billed as the wholesome alternative to Fifty Shades of Grey, the faith-based romance Old Fashioned managed a decent $1.1 million opening in 224 theaters - good enough for 15th place and the best opening for a faith-based film in 300 theaters or less.

Next week there are two comedies opening - Hot Tub Time Machine 2 and The Duff, along with the uplifting sports film McFarland, USA. We'll see how Fifty Shades holds up in its second weekend.


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