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Weekend Box Office: Fifty Shades Takes a Big Hit, Still Comes Out On Top

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By Chris Kavan - 02/23/15 at 12:33 AM CT

On Sunday the best and brightest of Hollywood turned out for the 87th Annual Academy Awards. But while the awards certainly drew a crowd, there were still plenty of people willing to get out and about to the theaters. But the audience was a bit subdued - the red-hot film from Valentine's weekend took a big drop and the newcomers didn't open to big numbers (with a certain sequel becoming the latest film of 2015 to disappoint). All in all, it's not going to be a weekend Hollywood is going to moon over.


After opening to a sizzling $85 million February record Fifty Shades of Grey nearly set another not-so-great record by dropping 73% in its second weekend. It narrowly avoided becoming the biggest drop out of any film opening in 3100 or more theaters (luckily Friday the 13th in 2009 dipped 80%).It took a bigger hit than fellow romance films The Fault in Our Stars (69%) and Valentine's Day (70%) - romance films tend to be incredibly front-loaded, and Fifty Shades, which has gotten mixed reviews from critics and audiences alike - was no different. It still manged to take first place with $23.2 million - giving it a new total of $130.1 million. It still has a good chance of hitting around $170 million domestically. The big news continues to be it's pretty amazing international performance. At $400 million and counting - it's going to be huge even if it's American numbers continue to dip. At just a $40 million cost, ten times its budget is looking mighty fine.


Also retaining its second-place spot, Kingsman: The Secret Service took a 52% hit - a bit high for movie that earned some decent word-of-mouth. The $17.5 million it took in raised its total to $67.1 million as it eyes at least a $100 million total before it exits theaters.


Yet another film in the same spot as last week, SpongeBob continued to do solid business, dipping about 51% in its third weekend. The animated film continued to have a solid grip on the family audience taking in $15.5 million and raising its total to $125.1 million. It should be able to top the $150 million mark - easily doubling its $74 million budget.


The newcomer that had the best opening this weekend was the inspirational story McFarland, USA. The Kevin Costner-led cross-country drama opened to $11.3 million. That topped previous Disney sports film Million Dollar Arm ($10.5 million) as well as Costner's last film Draft Day ($9.8 million). It was on par with 3 Days to Kill, which opened to $12.2 million on the same weekend last year. The audience was evenly split between men and women and ran a bit older (60% over 25) and it garnered an excellent "A" Cinemascore, suggesting word of mouth should be pretty good with a total around the $30 million range likely.


Rounding our the top five was another new film, The DUFF, which beat modest expectations by opening to $11 million. Mae Whitman led this teen-based drama, and social media was all over the young, female audience. It worked, as audiences awarded it an "A-" Cinemascore - one that was mostly female (75%) and younger (68% under 25). It should also be able to finish around the $30 million mark. While it won't be the next Mean Girls or Easy A - it also benefits from a much lighter $8.5 million budget - so it's already successful - everything else form this point on is just gravy.

Outside the top five: The week's biggest disappointment has to belong to Hot Tub Time Machine 2, which could only open in 7th place with a weak $5.8 million budget. That's off 58% from the $14 the first film opened to - and while that's a somewhat improvement over Machate Kills (68% drop from Machete) and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (a 78% drop) it's still not a number one should be happy with. In terms of 2015, it opened higher than Blackhat ($3.9 million) and Mortdecai ($4.2 million) but due to harsh critical reviews and an abysmal "C-" Cinemascore, it will probably be lucky to earn what the first film did in its first weekend.

The Julianne Moore drama (for which she just won the Best Actress Oscar) Still Alice expanded to 765 theaters (up 262 from last weekend) and jumped 28% (from 13th to 11th place) with $2.17 million giving it a new total of nearly $8 million. Should it get a post-Oscar bump, it could eventually top fellow Oscar pics Foxcatcher ($12 million) and Whiplash ($11.3 million and counting) in terms of total grosses.

Next week the we get the horror film The Lazarus Effect with Evan Peters and Olivia Wilde as well as the crime comedy with Will Smith and Margot Robbie, Focus. We'll see if con men and other-worldly forces can conquer the box office.


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