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Fifty Shades Freed Tops Box Office In Opening Weekend

From TIME - February 11, 2018

(LOS ANGELES)Newcomers like Fifty Shades Freed, Peter Rabbit and The 15:17 to Paris breathed some fresh life into a marketplace that has for weeks been dominated by Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, The Greatest Showman and various Oscar contenders. But its all just setting the stage for Black Panther, which opens next week.

Fifty Shades Freedmanaged to take the top spot on the charts in North American theaters. Universal Pictures estimated Sunday that the final chapter in the Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele saga earned $38.8 million over the weekenddown significantly from the first films $85.2 million debut and even the sequels $46.6 million opening, but enough to bump the three-film franchise over $1 billion globally. Women once again made up the vast majority (75 percent) of the opening weekend audience.

We are exhilarated with the results, said Jim Orr, Universals president of domestic distribution. To have a trilogy engineered primarily for a female audience that we were then able to broaden out into a billion-dollar franchise is just a fantastic result.

The studio expects a healthy mid-week bump on Valentines Day and to serve as counter-programming over the holiday weekend against Black Panther.

The steamy romance outdid other new competitors like Sonys CG and live-action update of Peter Rabbit, featuring the voice of James Corden, and Clint Eastwoods The 15:17 to Paris, starring the real men who thwarted an attack on a Paris-bound train in the summer of 2015.

Peter Rabbit, which cost around $50 million to produce, hopped to second place with a solid $25 million and an A- CinemaScore.

The 15:17 to Paris pulled into third place with $12.6 million. Eastwoods dramatic thriller about the true story was not well-received by critics or audiences, who gave the film a poor B- CinemaScore.

Two films that just wont quit rounded out the top five: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle fell to fourth place with $9.8 million and The Greatest Showman took fifth with $6.4 million.

Overall the marketplace is still down around 1.8 percent for the year and around 27 percent from the same weekend last year which, comScore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian notes, saw the launch of The Lego Batman Movie, Fifty Shades Darker and John Wick: Chapter 2, all of which opened over $30 million.

But the box office will pick up next weekend with Black Panther, which some analysts are pegging for a $150 million start.

This is the calm before the Marvel storm, Dergarabedian said. Black Panther is going to supercharge this marketplace when it opens later this week. I think its going to break records and spark a huge conversation.

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