Weekend Box Office: Grey Stays On Top

On this Academy Awards weekend, a future awards contender –that being the Razzies- stayed at the number one spot at the North American box office. Fifty Shades of Grey repeated as the top choice at the multiplexes for a second weekend despite a very steep drop in business. The erotic drama held off the okay openings for The DUFF and McFarland USA and the dismal opening for Hot Tub Time Machine 2.

With the pent-up fan demand taken care of last weekend and no romance-themed holiday like Valentine’s Day to give it an extra boost this weekend, Fifty Shades of Grey went down a steep 72% in its sophomore session to earn $23.2 million from 3,655 screens. After ten days, the movie’s domestic haul stands at $130 million. Should business continue to erode the way it did this weekend, Grey might make its way to $165 million. Foreign grosses for the film currently are at $280 million.

The film was due to take a good-sized tumble in its second go around, but that drop was expected to be somewhere in the range of 50-60% which is the norm for a film that opens that large. But with mixed-to-negative feedback coming from the audiences that helped the drama earn $85 million in its first three days, that tumble was a little steeper than anticipated.

While Ffity -the first of three planned film adaptations of the EL James book series- is certainly a financial success, the sizable drop in attendance raises concern about the turnout for the two sequels. If the literary devout were let down by the first cinematic offering, they may opt out of another dose of Mr. Grey and Ms. Steele. Production is set to begin on the second installment shortly for a 2016 release.

Landing in second place was Fox’s spy flick Kingsman: The Secret Service with an estimated $17.5 million from 3,266 theaters. Off 52% from its impressive opening over President’s Day weekend, the Matthew Vaughn feature has earned $67.1 million so far. Word-of-mouth has been solid for the R-rated action flick, which may help it reach the $100 million mark by the end of its domestic run. Overseas totals stand at $86 million.

Third place went to Paramount’s animated hit The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water with $15.5 million from 3,680 theaters. Off 51% from last weekend, the family comedy has earned $125.1 million. Bob and pals may reach $145-150 million Stateside. The foreign gross is currently at $76 million.

In fourth place was the Disney sports drama McFarland, USA with $11.3 million from 2,755 theaters. The well-reviewed (78% positive on Rotten Tomatoes) Kevin Costner film may have seen its business impacted by the winter weather gripping most of the country and could benefit from word-of-mouth from those who made it out to see it over the next few weeks.

Fifth place went to Lionsgate’s teen comedy The DUFF with $11 million from 2,575 theaters. Like the Costner film, this low-budget feature based on a popular book series may also have seen its opening numbers neutered by the country’s weather. Reviews were mostly favorable for the $8.5 million production. Its Rotten Tomatoes rating is 62%.

One new release that would have been a non-starter no matter how good or bad the weather turned out was Paramount’s Hot Tub Time Machine 2, which landed in seventh place with a dismal $5.8 million from 2,880 screens. The Paramount sequel to the 2010 mid-sized hit was savaged by critics (14% Rotten Tomatoes rating) and ignored by everyone else. One saving grace for Machine 2 is the $14 million production cost, which the film should recoup once it hits home video in a couple of months.

The remainder of the top ten was as follows:

  1. American Sniper (Warner) $9.6 million (-41%) $319.6 million
  1. Jupiter Ascending (Warner) $3.6 million (-60%); $39.5 million
  1. The Imitation Game (Weinstein) $2.5 million (-26%); $84 million
  1. Paddington (Weinstein) $2.2 million (-43%); $67.6 million

Next weekend sees the arrival of the new Will Smith comedy Focus and the horror film The Lazarus Effect. Mr. Smith should have no trouble knocking Mr. Grey down a few notches on the box office ladder.

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