Fifty Shades Fades to Grey
By John Hamann
February 22, 2015
After setting numerous records and completely dominating the box office globally, Fifty Shades of Grey was bound to drop in a very big way this weekend. The only question was how much.
Valentine’s Day and President’s Day took the box office to new heights last weekend, setting a record for overall box office in February. However, a batch of weaker openers this frame and the Oscars on Sunday limited any carryover from last weekend. Fifty Shades of Grey and Kingsman: The Secret Service both struggled after using the date night of the year to prop their numbers up last weekend. Openers this weekend don’t carry the cachet that last weekend’s did. Openers include The DUFF, a teen angst comedy with Mae Whitman, McFarland, USA, a Disney sports drama with Kevin Costner, and Hot Tub Time Machine 2, a sequel that moviegoers chose to roundly ignore. Oscar weekend is no longer what it used to be, but we still have three Oscar players in release – American Sniper, The Imitation Game and Still Alice, which expanded nicely.
Our number one film of the weekend remains Fifty Shades of Grey, the BDSM blockbuster from Universal. After earning $85.2 million over three days last weekend and $93 million over four, things came crashing back to reality for the R-rated drama. On Friday, Fifty Shades earned $8 million, off 74% from its opening Thursday/Friday take of $30.3 million. With some moviegoers home on Sunday night watching the Oscars, the impact on the weekend is even higher, and Fifty Shades had to settle for a weekend take of $23.2 million. That gives it a drop compared to last weekend’s $85.2 million haul of 73%. While significant, the drop does not set a record. For films on more than 3,000 screens, the record belongs to the 2009 reboot of Friday the 13th, which also opened the day before Valentine’s Day in 2009. It debuted to $40.6 million, and dropped 80% in its second frame, earning only $7.9 million.
The drop for Fifty Shades of Grey likely indicates that it will not earn $200 million from domestic theaters by the end of its run. Still, for a $40 million film that is dominating the globe ($410 million worldwide), there is very little to be upset about here. The C+ Cinemascore indicated this drop was coming, and with the calendar configuration, there was no stopping it. Regardless, it still only took six days to reach $100 million, only one day shorter than fellow February release, The Passion of the Christ. The thing to watch for with Fifty Shades of Grey is now the global box office. We'll be looking to see if it fades as quickly there as it does in North America. For now, Fifty Shades has a North American cumulative total of $130.1 million after only 10 days of release.
Last weekend’s other big opener, Kingsman: The Secret Service, also finds itself in the same position it was last weekend, but doesn’t see the big drop that Fifty Shades did. After a first to second dollar gap of almost $50 million last weekend, Kingsman narrows that advantage significantly this weekend, as it earned $17.5 million and fell 52%. Considering what was going on last weekend and what’s happening this frame, this hold has to be considered pretty darned solid. Matthew Vaughn appears to have another hit on his hands (I watched X-Men: First Class again last night and damn, that’s a good movie) as this should at least approach $100 million stateside. This one is also lighting it up overseas, where it had pulled in $58 million before the weekend began. The Fox actioner cost $81 million to make, so will need to cross the $200 million mark globally for the studio to see a profit.