The studio executive that decided to release the big-screen adaptation of erotic best-seller Fifty Shades of Grey over the weekend of Valentine’s Day should see a healthy raise this week, as the R-rated romantic drama saw many of the book’s fans and curious moviegoers come out in droves. The film earned an estimated $81.7 million in its first three days, although close to half of that came from Valentine’s Day sales alone. In North America, Fifty Shades of Grey stands as the second-biggest February opening of all time (after The Passion of the Christ‘s $83.8 million), although it sold fewer tickets than 2001’s Hannibal when that thriller opened to $58 million 14 Februarys ago.
Domestically, the film now has the fifth-biggest opening for an R-rated film (after The Matrix Reloaded, American Sniper, The Hangover Part II and the aforementioned Passion). Another intriguing statistic: Fifty Shades had the largest opening for a film with a female director, surpassing another first installment of a big-selling collection of books, Twilight ($69.6 million).
The erotic drama kicked off with a strong Friday of $30.2 million in ticket sales, including $8.6 million from early shows on Thursday evenings and jumped 21% on the Cupid-themed holiday to earn $36.7 million. However, with online and regular ticket sales reaching an apex on Valentine’s Day, the film is expected to fall 60% to earn $14.7 million on Sunday. (Another $9 million is expected on the President’s Day holiday.)
With a C+ CinemaScore and heavy initial turnout from the book’s fans, the film should drop heavily over the next few weeks. Regardless, Universal should be very happy with the strong opening for their $40 million adaptation. Internationally, the film performed even better, earning a whopping $158 million outside of North America. With close to $240 million in its worldwide debut, that is the biggest international opening for an R-rated movie in history.
Although it does not boast any major records, another R-rated adaptation had an impressive opening this weekend. Kingsman: The Secret Service served as strong counter-programming for the female-skewing Grey, taking in $35.6 million in its opening three days. (The four-day weekend estimate is $40.5 million.) Matthew Vaughn’s ultra-violent spy thriller started its marketing campaign with a terrific trailer in front of X-Men: Days of Future Past last May, and despite a delayed opening (it was supposed to come out in October), fan excitement was still there nine months later.
Among slick R-rated adaptations of comic books or graphic novels, the film performed better initially than Sin City ($29.1 million) and V for Vendetta ($25.6 million), although it was weaker than 300: Rise of an Empire ($45 million) and Wanted ($50.9 million). With good reviews, a more favorable B+ CinemaScore and little competition for action lovers over the coming weeks, Kingsman should hold up better than Grey. The $81 million film also delivered the seventh biggest opening over the President’s Day weekend, and could flirt with the $100 million mark in North America if word-of-mouth continues to be strong.