Tue | Dec 6, 2016

'Fifty Shades' rides Valentine's tide

Published:Monday | February 16, 2015 | 12:00 AM

LOS ANGELES (AP):Audiences were more than curious to check out the big-screen adaptation of the racy phenomenon, Fifty Shades of Grey, this weekend. The erotic drama sizzled in its debut, earning an estimated US$81.7 million from 3,646 cinemas in its first three days, distributor Universal Pictures said yesterday.

In addition to destroying Valentine's and President's Day weekend records, Fifty Shades of Grey has also become the second-highest February debut ever, behind Passion of the Christ's US$83.9 million opening in 2004.

The chart-topping film cost a modest US$40 million to produce. Starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, respectively, it could be on track to earn over US$90 million across the four-day holiday weekend.

According to Universal, North American audiences were 68 per cent female.

Internationally, director Sam Taylor-Johnson's adaptation of E. L. James' book earned an estimated US$158.3 million from 9,637 locations in 58 territories. That's the second-biggest international opening for Universal, right behind the US$160.3 million debut of Fast & Furious 6 and the highest international opening for an R-rated film ever.

Director Matthew Vaughn's Kingsman: The Secret Service also exceeded expectations, landing in second place with an estimated US$35.6 million from 3,204 locations across the three-day period, according to box-office firm Rentrak.

The R-rated comic-book adaptation starring Colin Firth and Samuel L. Jackson cost a reported US$81 million to produce and should earn around US$41 million across the four-day period.

Animated children's film The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water came in third with US$30.5 million on its second weekend in cinemas, falling only 45 per cent. As one of the few family-friendly options in cinemas, Paramount's PG-rated movie could pass US$100 million by the end of the holiday weekend.

Rounding out the top five were holdovers American Sniper, with US$16.4 million, and Jupiter Ascending, with US$9.4 million.

The Oscar-nominated American Sniper, now in its fifth weekend of wide release, has earned over US$300 million in North America to date.

These are the estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at US and Canadian cinemas, according to Rentrak:

1. Fifty Shades of Grey (US$81.7m)

2. Kingsman: The Secret Service (US$35.6m)

3. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (US$30.5m)

4. American Sniper (US$16.4m)

5. Jupiter Ascending (US$9.4m)

6. Seventh Son (US$4.2m)

7. Paddington (US$4.1m)

8. The Imitation Game (US$3.5m)

9. The Wedding Ringer (US$3.4m)

10. Project Almanac (US$2.7m)