February 14, 2015

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “50 Shades” of Box Office Domination Begins


FIFTY SHADES OF GREY (Universal/Focus) had the giant box office start that’s been anticipated since the movie was announced.  According to preliminary numbers at Deadline, it earned $31M on Friday (that includes $8.6M from Thursday evening shows), and if that number holds up, it would be the 2d biggest one-day February gross (and the month’s highest opening day) ever, behind the $33.1M first Saturday for The Passion of the Christ.  It’s extremely hard to calculate just where Fifty Shades will end up this weekend.  Normally, such a fan-fueled film would be hugely front-loaded, and could be expected to drop heavily on its 2d day (the Twilight movies plunged 40% or more on those days), especially since exit poll results, dubious as those are, were notably low, but Valentine’s Day will slow that–it’s even possible that Fifty Shades will go up on Saturday, the way Valentine’s Day did on its titular day in 2010 (a Sunday, its 3rd day of release).  Then a steep drop would normally be in store on Sunday, but that may be softened by the 4-day holiday weekend.  50 Shades could be as high as $90M+ by Monday, or $15M below that.  One thing that’s clear, though, is that with a very moderate $40M production budget, 50 Shades will be enormously profitable even when worldwide marketing is taken into account, and production of the sequels is a sure thing.

KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (MARV/20th) counterprogrammed 50 Shades by going after the young male audience, and it’s working out nicely for the action-adventure.  It had a $10.5M Friday (including $1.4M from Thursday evening), which should bring it to $30M or so by Sunday, and $35M at the end of the holiday weekend.  At a $80M production budget, though, meaning $200M with marketing included, it will still need to show some staying power to hit profit, let alone franchise level success.

None of last weekend’s openings held very well.  THE SPONGEBOB MOVIE:  SPONGE OUT OF WATER (Nickelodeon/Paramount) dropped 56% from its opening day to $6.6M, not a good showing for a family movie.  (Last year’s February opening The LEGO Movie slipped just 25% on its 2d Friday.)  It will benefit from Monday’s holiday, and should have $35M for the 4-day weekend, which will put it in shouting distance of $100M, but it isn’t going to be a LEGO-ish breakout smash.  JUPITER ASCENDING (Village Roadshow/Warners) fell an ugly 68% from last Friday to $2M, and it won’t get to $10M even with the long holiday weekend.  It’s unlikely to reach $50M in the US, and with a $300M production/marketing cost (rumors put it as much as $50M higher than that), it’s virtually certain to drown in red ink.  SEVENTH SON (Legendary/Universal) had a 60% Friday-to-Friday drop with just $900K on Friday, and a 4-day weekend under $4M on the way.  It’s a dead loss, with a US total that may not get past $20M.

Oscar candidates were of course led by AMERICAN SNIPER (Village Roadshow/Warners), down 39% from last Friday to $3.8M, with perhaps $20M in store for the 4-day weekend.  That will put it over $300M at the US box office, and even without Oscar wins next week, it has a strong chance of passing Mockingjay to become the highest-grossing 2014 release in the US.  THE IMITATION GAME (Weinstein) isn’t in that league, but it’s still holding on quite well with a 38% Friday-to-Friday decline to $800K, which should give it a $4M 4-day weekend and put its US total at an extremely robust $80M.

On the indie front, vampire comedy WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (Paladin) is on its way to a modest $15K per-theatre average at 5 NY/LA theatres.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."