LOS ANGELES: Universal’s opening of “Fifty Shades Freed” is dominating North American moviegoing this weekend with a solid $38.8 million (RM152.9 million) at 3,678 locations as cinemas await the arrival of “Black Panther.”
Sony’s launch of family comedy “Peter Rabbit” wound up with a better-than-expected $25 million (RM98.5 million) at 3,725 sites. Clint Eastwood’s thriller “The 15:17 to Paris” from Warner Bros. arrived above forecasts at $12.6 million (RM49.7 million) at 3,042 venues for the weekend.
A pair of sturdy holiday season holdovers in their eighth weekends took fourth and fifth as Sony’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” finished with about $9.8 million (RM38.6 million) at 3,126 sites and Fox’s “The Greatest Showman” grossed $6.4 million (RM25.2 million) at 2,373 screens. “Jumanji” declined only 10% from the previous weekend and will finish the weekend with $365.7 million (RM1.441 billion) in 54 days in 38th place on the all-time domestic grosser list, $3 million (RM11.8 million) behind “Despicable Me 2.” “Showman” slid only 17% and has totalled $146.5 million (RM577.3 million).
The finale of the “Fifty Shades” trilogy – referred to in marketing materials as “the climax” – is also launching in 57 international markets this weekend.
The weekend saw a significant increase in moviegoing in the wake of a slow Super Bowl weekend with $138 million (RM543.8 million), up 46%, according to comScore. Overall business was off 27% from the same weekend a year ago, when “The Lego Batman Movie” led with $53 million (RM208.8 million).
Movie-going will receive another major boost over the Presidents Day weekend with Disney-Marvel’s “Black Panther” opening on February 16 and forecasted to take in as much as $150 million (RM591 million) during the Friday-Monday period. Overall year-to-date domestic business as of Sunday is $1.234 billion (RM4.863 billion), down 1.8% from 2017.
“This weekend is merely the calm before the proverbial Marvel-powered storm as ‘Black Panther’ is poised to leap into theatres with potentially record-breaking results,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore.
“Fifty Shades Freed” sees Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson return as Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele in the conclusion of the events set in motion in 2015’s “Fifty Shades of Grey” and 2017’s “Fifty Shades Darker.” Though the “Fifty Shades Freed” launch wound up above forecasts, it was not as strong as its predecessors. “Fifty Shades of Grey” opened with a sensational $85.2 million (RM335.7 million) in 2015, and “Fifty Shades Darker” opened with $46.6 million (RM183.6 million) on the same weekend last year.
“Fifty Shades Freed” generated a B+ CinemaScore with an audience that was 75% female with 55% under 30. “We were able to expand the audience beyond the core demographic, and it played well in all geographic areas,” said Jim Orr, Universal’s president of domestic distribution.
Orr credited the “exhaustive” marketing efforts and the chemistry between Dornan and Johnson for the continued strong performance of the franchise and noted that the studio expects strong playability in coming weeks. He also said there will be a significant bump in midweek performance with Valentine’s Day on Wednesday.
“Peter Rabbit,” a live-action/CGI animated film from Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation, saw an uptick in Saturday business to finish well above recent projections. James Corden is voicing Peter Rabbit in a contemporary comedy highlighted by his feud with Mr McGregor’s heir (Domhnall Gleeson) as they rival for the affections of the warm-hearted animal lover who lives next door, played by Rose Byrne.
Eastwood’s “15:17 to Paris” is based on the book “The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Heroes” by Jeffrey E. Stern, Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, and Alek Skarlatos, about the 2015 Thalys train attack. The film, which is co-financed by Village Roadshow, stars Stone, Sadler, and Skarlatos as themselves. Judy Greer and Jenna Fischer also star.
Fox’s third weekend of “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” finished sixth behind “Jumanji” and “Showman” with $6 million (RM23.6 million) at 2,923 sites. The finale of the dystopian trilogy has taken in $49 million (RM193.1 million) in 17 days.
Lionsgate-CBS Films’ second weekend of Helen Mirren’s historical horror film “Winchester” followed in seventh with $5.1 million (RM20.1 million) at 2,480 locations. Fox’s eighth weekend of Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” finished eighth with $3.5 million (RM13.8 million) at 1,865 venues to lift its domestic total to $72.8 million (RM286.8 million).
Fox Searchlight’s 11th weekend of Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” came in ninth with $3 million (RM11.8 million) at 1,780 sites. The fantasy romance, which scored 13 Oscar nominations on January 23, has a domestic total of $49.7 million (RM195.8 million).
STXfilms’ fourth weekend of heist thriller “Den of Thieves” edged Warner Bros. fourth session of “12 Strong” for the 10th spot with $2.9 million (RM11.4 million) at 1,468 locations for a $41 million (RM161.5 million) total. Afghan war drama “12 Strong” took $2.7 million (RM10.6 million) at 1,901 sites for a 24-day total of $42 million (RM165.4 million).