February 21, 2015

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: Plunging 50 Shades Easily Shackles DUFF, McFarland, Hot Tub 2


Hollywood doesn’t typically open strong titles on Oscar weekend, when moviegoing is likely to fall sharply on Sunday.  So although the superfans and curiosity-seekers have already had their fill, and 50 SHADES OF GREY (Universal/Focus) wasted no time in diving from last week’s remarkable heights, the kinky romance is having no trouble with this weekend’s trio of weak openings, none of which are likely to reach even the Top 3.

According to preliminary numbers at Deadline, 50 Shades faded fast, down 72% from its opening day to $8.4M.  In this, it follows other front-loaded female-aimed hits like the Twilight series (down 70-87% on their 8th days of release), the Sex and the City movies (down 73-78%) and The Fault In Our Stars (down 78%).  With Sunday’s expected low turnout, the weekend as a whole won’t bounce back from that plunge, and 50 Shades is likely to have a $25M weekend.  That’s still going to put the movie in line for $160M+ in the US, and more than that overseas, so no one at the studio will be weeping over this, but word of mouth will not be the franchise’s friend.

KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (MARV/20th) and THE SPONGEBOB MOVIE: SPONGE OUT OF WATER (Nickelodeon/Par) will take the next 2 slots, respectively down from last Friday at rates of 50% (to $5.2M) and 40% (to $3.9M).  Both should have $15-16M weekends, which will leave Kingsman at $65M with a hope of reaching $100M, and SpongeBob at $125M, on its way to $150M.  SpongeBob will be the more profitable, although Kingsman may have a higher overseas upside.

Only then do we reach this weekend’s newcomers, none of which are distinguishing themselves.  THE DUFF (CBS/Lionsgate) had the best Friday at $4.1M, but like 50 Shades, it caters to a front-loaded female audience and may not get beyond $10-11M for the weekend.  However, word of mouth could help the comedy in the long term, along the lines of Easy A, which opened with $17.7M (a so-so 2.6x multiple from its opening day) but made it all the way to $58.4M (an impressive 3.3x multiple).  MCFARLAND USA (Disney), on the other hand, with $3.6M on Friday, is a PG family drama that might reach $12M for the weekend and could have the longest legs of the weekend’s openings.  HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 (MGM/Par) is a hot mess with just $2.5M on Friday and weekend prospects that may need some luck to hit $7M.

The Oscar contenders were naturally led by AMERICAN SNIPER (Village Roadshow/Warners), down 30% from last Friday to $2.6M and heading for a $9-10M weekend that will bring its massive total to $318M, with Mockingjay‘s $336.2M in its sights.  THE IMITATION GAME (Weinstein) dropped just 13% from last Friday to $700K and may have a $2.5M weekend that would put it on track for a $90M US total, despite the fact that it’s not expected to win any award higher than Best Adapted Screenplay on Sunday.  None of the other Best Picture nominees are likely to hit $1M for the weekend.

The only notable limited release of the weekend is Best Foreign Film nominee  WILD TALES (Sony Classics), which looks to have an OK $15K per-theatre average for the weekend at 4 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."