Box Office: ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Explodes With Record-Breaking $81.7 Million

fifty Shades of Grey 5 Shades

Fifty Shades of Grey” sizzled at the weekend box office, setting new records for the highest-grossing Presidents Day holiday opener of all time and ranking among the biggest R-rated debuts in history.

The erotic drama performed like a comicbook movie, albeit one with much naughtier costumes, picking up $81.7 million from 3,646 locations over the three-day period. That easily trumped the holiday’s previous record-holder, the 2010 debut of the romantic comedy “Valentine’s Day,” which kicked off with $56.3 million.

“It had that whole sex thing going for it, it was edgy, and it started a conversation,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior box office analyst at Rentrak. “It went beyond being a girls’ night out movie and became a date night movie.”

“Fifty Shades of Grey” will do more than $90 million over the four-day holiday, in addition to triggering a massive increase in heart palpitations across the moviegoing public. Among the many high-water marks the saucy tale has hit, the film’s debut is the second-biggest in February history behind “The Passion of the Christ” and the fourth-biggest R-rated premiere, trailing “The Matrix Reloaded,” “The Hangover: Part II” and Mel Gibson’s aforementioned crucifixion tale.

It’s been more than a decade since “Basic Instinct” and “Disclosure” heated up the box office with sexually charged bigscreen fantasies and visions. The Internet and explicit cable TV shows had made kinky cinematic adventures seem positively anachronistic, but by mixing romance with bondage, author E.L. James was able to put a fresh spin on a limp genre, selling 100 million copies of her book and inspiring the smash hit movie. It’s an approach that could usher in a new period of sexual candor in cinema — at the very least it seems likely to last through “Fifty Shades” parts two and three.

In marketing materials, Universal Pictures, the studio behind the $40 million production, emphasized the love story elements of the tale of a brooding billionaire (Jamie Dornan) who whisks a timid college student (Dakota Johnson) away into a world of glider rides, pregnant pauses, smoldering glances, impossibly tight jeans, and the occasional detour into S&M.

“We worked to make this film accessible to the widest audience possible,” said Nick Carpou, Universal’s president of domestic distribution. “The campaign was carefully crafted to highlight the quality of the production value and to heighten the romantic aspect of the storyline and the interpersonal relationship at its heart.”

Universal had originally slated “Fifty Shades of Grey” for an October 2014 release but moved its premiere to Valentine’s Day. The timing proved advantageous.

“The gamble paid off,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at “It flies in the face of what you’d expect to be released on that day. It’s usually safe and non-offensive dramas and comedies.”

“Fifty Shades of Grey’s” opening weekend audience was 68% female, 52% Caucasian, 22% Hispanic and 15% African-American. The picture played well on premium large format screens, which drew $7.4 million, as well as on Imax, which contributed $2.1 million. Reviews for the film were tepid, and it appears audiences agree with critics, handing the film a lackluster C+ CinemaScore grade. Most analysts think the film will fall sharply in its follow-up weekends.

The movie business tends to be fixated on youth, but this Presidents Day was remarkable for the amount of adult-oriented content it boasted. “Fifty Shades of Grey” wasn’t the only R-rated picture that did impressive business — 20th Century Fox’s tongue-in-cheek spy thriller “Kingsman: The Secret Service” premiered to $35.6 million from 3,204 locations. It should do more than $41 million over the four-day holiday.

Like “Fifty Shades of Grey,” “Kingsman” had originally been scheduled to debut last October, but Fox saw an opening for some counterprogramming. It knew that “Fifty Shades” would be the clear choice for female ticket buyers, allowing the studio to siphon off male moviegoers.

“We knew [‘Fifty Shades of Grey’] was going to be a big movie, but it seemed like everyone else was staying away, and we saw an opportunity,” said Chris Aronson, Fox’s domestic distribution chief. “This is a terrific, smart action movie that’s primarily geared toward males.”

Filmed for $81 million and directed by “X-Men:First Class” helmer Matthew Vaughn, “Kingsman” features Colin Firth as a sort of ass-kicking George Smiley and newcomer Taron Egerton as the street tough he takes under his impeccably tailored wing. Fifty seven percent of the film’s opening weekend crowd was male, and 60% was over the age of 25.

Last weekend’s champ, “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water,” was able to mop up the family business, earning an estimated $30.5 million for the three-day weekend. The animated sequel will have made more than $100 million by the time the holiday ends.

Warner Bros.’ “American Sniper” blasted past another benchmark, crossing $300 million at the domestic box office after adding another $16.4 million over the weekend.

Fifth place finisher “Jupiter Ascending” insured that there will be writedowns at Warner Bros. The science-fiction adventure took in $9.4 million for the three-day period and has made $32.5 million since it debuted last weekend. Its $176 million production budget and tens of millions in marketing and distribution costs make profitability nearly impossible.

Among milestones, “Big Hero 6” passed “Beauty and the Beast” to become the third highest-grossing Disney Animation release with $219.3 million, behind “The Lion King” and “Frozen.”

On the arthouse front, the Anna Kendrick musical comedy “The Last Five Years” pulled in $45,107 across three screens, for a per-screen average of $15,036. The Radius-TWC release also debuted on video-on-demand. The indie label’s “Citizenfour,” the Oscar-nominated documentary about Edward Snowden, made $31,138 this weekend from 17 theaters, pushing its total to $2.6 million. That’s a strong figure for documentaries, which are lucky to reach $1 million theatrically.

Thanks to “Fifty Shades of Grey’s” utter domination, the Stateside box office is poised to have a record-breaking Presidents Day weekend. Rentrak estimates that ticket sales hit $209 million for the three day period, eclipsing the $205 million mark set in 2010, and the overall box office should top out at $240 million, squeaking ahead of the $239 million it hit that same year.

Sex, it seems, still sells, especially when it involves a riding crop.

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  1. Andrew MacMahon says:

    Love sells, not sex.

  2. Khadijah says:

    The so called experts think the movie is about the sex. There is little in it that my wife and I did not do as far as that is concerned. Talking about the abuse issues was amazing. The relational elements were wonderful. The Characters were well matched to the parts. Thank goodness they did not use big name stars,

  3. playerthirteen408 says:

    Not like Henry Miller nor Marquis de Sade ever cracked the charts. But now that taboo practices dated to the dawn of man are publicly acceptable and domesticated into the puritan suburbs, its now ok to embrace it. Fucking ignorant hypocrites. Pick up a book, that isn’t a NY Bestseller.

  4. Smith says:

    The American sniper win

  5. ann geets says:

    totally yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! love the books !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Christian was sexually abused and his anger was suppressed all these years. He then reciprocates towards women when he becomes the DOMINATOR while women he chooses become the SUBMISSIVE SLAVE. He was older and she was naivve and younger. At first it was new and she was curious, but then at the end, she did not like the position she was in and she walked away and it was no longer enjoyable. She was confused while this game was happening, but her senses and inner strength came to and she walked away from the sexual abuse, pain, intimidation, manipulation and her feeling that she must be Christopher’s sex slave in order to be accepted. Totally Twisted and lustful and

    ll and actually abusive and degrading to women. This movie shows NO RESPECT

  7. robin says:

    I loved this followed the book…I am glad it left out a lot of the sea scenes and just put major ones in the movie…for all the haters of this movie and book…..Don’t read or go see it…it’s entertainment…so get off your high horse and either join in or Don’t. is still free will…

  8. PL says:

    How do they know the percentages of “ethnicities” I don’t remember filling out a form.

  9. Tess says:

    My problem with the movie was that it left out my favourite parts from the book and it didn’t flow from scene to scene. If I hadn’t read the books I’d have had no clue what was going on. I wish the character interaction. We hardly saw Kate. I love that scene where Kate screams at Christian also the dinner was so short. It felt like they should have either made the movie 30 minutes longer or cut the sex scenes, which weren’t even good quality.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Quting Zoe Margolis at Newstatseman

    “50 Shades of Grey: a film about male power, idealizing emotional abuse as sexy when it isn’t”

    It is not acceptable for a man to stalk a woman, harass her, and to drive a wedge between her and her friends and family. Showering a woman with expensive gifts does not make it okay that a man can break in, then hide in her home waiting for her. Emotionally manipulating, then harassing, a woman to agree to a man’s relationship terms (or have no relationship at all) is not, in any sense, alright. All good relationships are built on respect, trust and consent and this one contains none of that.”

    I could not agree more

    • robin says:

      It is not about that all…it is actually about two adults consenting to specific sexual acts…yeah the stalking isn’t right but Ana didn’t put up with it she put Christian in his place….you need to remember this is only entertainment…The basis of the story is that Ana shows Christian what a real relationship is suppose to look like…

  11. Electrostar says:

    ALL these entertainment media internet sites are basically marketing troll comment pages expounding their bogus box-office returns for movies that are never seen and books that are never read and both which are never heard of. Its a bogus criminal industry run and profited upon criminally by criminals. Thats what it is and thats what we get at these sites that admonish them. End of story, willingly.

  12. THE WAY IT IS says:

    Look at all the marketing troll comments pretending to praise the unread unheard of book and this unwatched unheard of movie. CRIMINAL ENTERTAINMENT MEDIA is the real name for you, trolls. HAHAHAHA HAHAHAHA HAHAHAHA HAHAHAHA

  13. Summer says:

    The books are amazing it gives the reader the ability to use their own imagination for how the story flows. As for the movie not going to sugar coat it. It followed the book rather well still missed some key sences but one can’t have everything. Some people are to critical about sex when they shouldn’t be this is what the book is based on and I personally thought there would be more in the movie. However my problem with movie and I get the same opinion from many friends, family, and co-workers. THE CAST? Yes, that’s correct the cast was horrible nothing against the actors/actresses but when the book explains them so differently. Dakota Johnson (Anastasia Steele) was honestly the only actress to fit the bill for her role. Personally I hope for a casting recall Christian Grey is supposed to be a playboy millionaire and though Jamie had the body the face was wrong. Elliot come on he was a stick really off. I don’t even want to get started on the sister gothic? Really off. Great movie but still disappointed.

  14. sharon says:

    Great movie! Really do not understand why some think it should be blocked. It is a love story with a look at a lifestyle, not familiar to a lot of people. Much rather see something like this rather than a lot of the gore and violence we see, showing rape and murder on the big screen as well as on tv.
    I have already ordered the DVD and am anxiously waiting for the next book to become a movie.

    • mistressgemini says:

      Oh yes because all great love stories come with a contract. I forgot about the contract scene in An Affair to Remember, so I will have to rewatch that love story to refresh my memory.

      Just to help you out in life I will give you a little bit of information. Love doesn’t begin with a contract, manipulation is not love, it is not love if your significant other wants you to distance yourself from mentally healthy friends and family, if someone breaks into your house get a restraining order, and if a person you recently met wants to tie you up be sure your family knows where to find a copy of your will.

      The fact that there are women this ignorant in the world is both depressing and eye opening. The books are not well written, and only exciting to those with no enjoyable physical relations in their life. If you think this movie depicts actual BDSM you are as clueless about it as the woman responsible for the books. I will not call her a writer nor an author because it is insulting to the true artists in that role.

    • Tess says:

      I disagree about it following the books. There were so many scenes that had most of the talking and character interation cut so all that was left was the sex. I have no problem with the sex scenes but without the character interactions I felt cheated. If I hadn’t read the books I would have hated the movie.

  15. Therese says:

    Let’s redefine COLOSSAL SUCCESS: [Shades fan * 3 showings] + [Curious fan * 1showing]= $94 Million 4-day Opening Weekend. I watched Rocky 8 times on Opening Weekend, it won Best Picture and received wonderful critics’ reviews, yielded multiple sequels and made Sylvester Stallone a household name…… and everyone still does the Rocky dance. Now that’s my definition of a COLOSSAL SUCCESS!!!….. plus every opinion matters.

  16. Cary says:

    Terrible book and terrible movie.

    • Leslie says:

      Cary, sounds like you got the attention of Cam Jr., hater extraordinaire. I don’t give a rat’s behind about this movie, but its interesting to observe the hype/reaction/commentary. I notice that anyone who DOESN’T like the movie or book gets SLAMMED by people who do. Wonder what that means?

    • CAM Jr says:

      CARY, how does it feel to know that your opinion about the BOOK and the MOVIE mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to the bottom line of either project???? I learned long ago, if what I feel, say or do mean NOTHING to the EXISTENCE of another thing, there’s NO NEED EVER discussing it. I hope the COLOSSAL SUCCESS of both the book and movie teach YOU the same thing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Thomas Jordan says:

    I have pre-ordered a copy of 50 Shades of Grey from Amazon to add to my Movie Collection. When can I expect to have the movie added??? I paid more for an advanced digital copy of the movie than I would have if my wife and I would have just went to the Theater yesterday. Why won’t they release my copy as soon as I placed the order???

  18. Awyot says:

    Loved the books. Loved the movie. Jamie was the perfect Christian, as the book describes him as boyish good lucks. Plus, he is only supposed to be 27. I do think you have to know the backdrop of the story to appreciate the movie. Ive gone twice and plan on going again!

  19. Anonymous says:

    Stalking and grooming a young woman for sadistic sex. Breaking into her home, harassing her. This film makes manipulating and being emotionally abusive toward women seem acceptable and it is not. A big lie it is absolutely disgraceful. It portrays it being acceptable for men to be controlling and disrespectful towards women.

  20. Snow White says:

    Grey is a damaged soul and her love heals him.” Excuse me – what he needs is many years of therapy.
    There’s nothing more sexy than rape and abuse! This movie and the book suck balls!!!!

    • One opinion says:

      If you read the books you know the character in the story has been to many therapists and is still going regularly. To anyone who thinks you can possibly get all the information from hundreds of pages of a book into a movie, that’s just not realistic expectation from the start. To all those who think that “only abused women like this story for hope of some romance” what a closed minded, judgmental comment to make. Having read all three books, I will say, the first is only the beginning of the whole story. I did not particularly like the first book but because of the other stories within, about the reasons why the character was the way he was, read the following books and the 2nd and 3rd books give a enjoyable story beyond the sexual story. The realizations of what is an isn’t acceptable treatment of a person in a real relationship starts to show up and the changes come in to play. It is just a story people and opinions are all of our free will but bashing people who have been abused or stereotyping a race or gender is so unnecessary. It is a much less disturbing story than some of what I have seen. It has drama, suspense, romance but you would have to read books 2 and 3 to get that and have an open mind to what is there beyond the sex. Valid points of stalking and invasion of privacy but it is an argued point throughout. Consent is being asked for in writing and of adult parties for clear and precise boundaries but no agreement signed and the fact of changes considered to give to boths wants and requests. Lastly, let’s not overlook the infatuation on both characters parts. Some seem to be taking it too personally, over thinking and over analyzing. It is a fictional story and apparently must be better than even those who say they do not like it because it got all this attention and that is what it is all about.
      There is always a choice. Read or watch or don’t! It’so that simple.

  21. Hector says:

    The fifth not the fourth highest R-rated opening movie, remember there is American Sniper as the second highest R-rated opening weekend.

  22. Leslie Theis says:

    Movie sucked, actors chosen for this film did not impress nor did the even match their characters. Extremely disappointed.

  23. 50 Shades of Bad… What a terrible movie. They fool me once, but not again. What a waste of my money.

  24. Therese says:

    50 Shades fans insist that what happens in the bedroom is a private affair. Then why are these same fans entering Ana and Christian’s bedroom to watch as if it were a zoo or a fish tank?! This new generation can’t think for themselves and have no imagination. They need 2 actors to demonstrate the finer details of the act.

    The storyline is not a big deal, it’s the graphic details that fans insist on reading or watching for their own personal pleasure is the sickening part. We miss the beauty of “An Affiar To Remember” or even “Sleepless in Seattle” when the 2 main characters did not meet until the very last scene. That’s entertaining romance!

  25. konajinx says:

    TIL People enjoy reading poorly written books and hate watching terrible movies based on the poorly written books.

  26. T konynenburg says:

    As a happily married parent of two in my early forties, I went to see 50 shades on valentines day eve with my husband (who hadnot read the book)…. Well, what to say! We actually enjoyed it… My expectation was spot on: Bridget jones but darker crossed between pride and prejustice re attitudes of characters…Jamie Dornan is very fit and plays the part well although he has been slated by the critics, the last half hour were his finest moments…. (The script could have incorporated the comment that Christian made about the presence of Ana’s pubic hair when he first undresses her to give his character more depth/comic interpretation and also references to the beetle being a ‘death trap’ whence his need to replace it without further discussion… These and many other aspects of his character were glossed over which is a pity) Can’t wait for part 2 now as we will hopefully see more of their personalities and their inner struggles for acceptance….

    Does the film stand up without having read the books….? Not sure! The no knickers scene when Ana meets his parents/family isn’t really clear unless you have read the book, my husband wasn’t too sure what was going on at that point (proves the point really) the best thing was that there was no inner goddess ever mentioned hoorah!!!!! A good friend wanted to go and see it so I’m going again tomorrow night!!! If you are expecting to see a soft porn movie (9.5 weeks etc) then I think you will be dissappointed but as a love story that unravels throughout a trilogy of books then the foundation is good, book 2 is more gritty so here’s hoping the film will be too!!!! Signing off for now x

    • Anonymous says:

      You mentioned an aspect of the film I hadn’t really thought about before – the casting of Anastasia had to take into account a ‘hairstyle’ we usually don’t think about in mainstream films.

  27. Emma. says:

    okay, very popular but the critics are AWFUL. I saw like 1 positive review. Even the fans are disappointed.

  28. Jules says:

    I read the books they were great. the movie on the other hand was crap. the only reason why it sold so many tickets was because people enjoyed reading the books. the movie was a total disappointment. wont be watching 2 or 3 if they even decide to do it. I was just so pissed off after watching it. the charters did not match the descriptions in the book. it was just sad to watch I actually fell asleep. as I said really disappointing. and one last point the actors need serious acting lessons.

  29. Iris J Fino says:

    please people dont judge the movie if you dont read the 3 books and dont watch it if you are waiting for a romantic one and be a open mind person if you qualify on any of those DONT GO see the movie

    • Anon says:

      If the books are required reading for understanding or judging the movie than the movie has failed in that aspect. The movie must be able to stand on it’s own.

    • Mark A. says:

      Oh gee whiz, Iris. I’m afraid I’m gonna wanna have to judge you (and harshly) on account of your masterful grammatical skills. NOT!

  30. Therese says:

    It is initially disturbing the success of the film until reading that most who enjoyed the film are from abusive relationships and the novel takes them to a higher ground with the added element of romance. Now you only have compassion upon realizing there are so many of them who no doubt are spiritually empty.

    • Charmain glass says:

      Oh gee whiz, Mark A. I’m afraid I’m gonna wanna have to judge you ( and harshly) on account of your juvenile use of “NOT” to show sarcasm.

  31. Kyle says:

    It is a sad day when this is considered a romance movie. Everything Christian Grey does to Anastasia is abuse. He bugs her phone, sneaks into her house uninvited, ignore safe words, and punishes her for lack of communication despite the fact he’s the one shutting her up in the first place. This is not a valid representation of BDSM. BDSM is about Consent, Care, and Safety.

  32. Rob says:

    BDSM is an Anglo perversion. Expect the majority of the moviegoers to be white.

  33. Cheri says:

    50 shades of great can’t wait to see the other two moves perfect job

  34. Commenter says:

    Sadly the Wikipedia page on 50 Shades states the fans of the book and film are women with eating disorders and have been in abusive relationships. The popularity is most likely from their hope or fantasy that romance can eventually blossom in spite of the abuse.

  35. guest says:

    What the media fails to realize that there were people of all age ranges. I was sitting in an audience where there were men and women in there 60s and higher.

    The critics are FOS and just were primed to blast it. The only reason for the cinema score beiw a C is because people wanted more sex. It wasn’t because they thought the film was bad.

    I liked the film. I enjoyed the books. So I know Ana isn’t some wimpy woman being abused. I can’t wait to see Darker and Freed.

    Congrats to Universal. Nice job.

    • konajinx says:

      The senior citizens were there so they would have something to lull them to sleep for their daily naps. And I’m pretty sure the critics hated it because it sucked, not because they wanted more sex. Universal appreciates your support of crappy movies.

  36. Beth says:

    Hopefully the acting improves with the sequel.

  37. Beth says:

    Feeling “fit to be tied” after wasting more than two hours watching 50 Shades of Gray. Although the book lacked a plot line, it kept its appeal through the many steamy sex scenes that hook romance readers. However, the movie lacked both plot and the sexual hook. At times, the interactions between Anna and Christian were laugh-out-loud pathetic. Christian pulls Anna over his shoulder claiming his palms itch and slaps her backside. His anger is unconvincing and Anna’s reaction lacks any realistic quality. Looks like the couple missed a few classes in the fundamentals of acting 101.

  38. Valerie Couch says:

    This is a dumb movie and the books suck also. I am creeped out.

  39. I loved the movie.
    warning stay away from CubeSmart.
    They allow criminals 24 hour access to their storage units.
    Thank you

    • Charmain glass says:

      Valerie, how do you know the books sucked/ Surely you didn’t read two and three after you read one if one sucked.

  40. Donna butler says:

    I give fifty shades of grey a thumbs up, it was very good. I read the books more than once and I believe they did a real good job with the movie.

  41. Ashley says:

    50 Shades of Grey and The Passion of the Christ are the 2 highest grossing movies…. What does that say about our society!?!?

  42. PowerOverMoney says:

    Thank you Queen Bey for blessing this film with your synergy. Everything Queen Bey touches is gold. Her soulful 21st century feminist post racial polarizing sexuality was the right touch to send thins thing into record breaking material. Queen Bey doesn’t follow trends. She makes them, telling these basic thots and scrubs what media to consume.

  43. William says:

    “It’s been more than a decade since “Basic Instinct” and “Disclosure” heated up the box office”

    Shouldn’t it be “more than two decades”? “Basic Instinct” came out in 1992 and “Disclosure” came out in 1994, didn’t they?

  44. Borx says:

    Christ Variety, you have terrible writing.

  45. sluggo says:

    Deviancy and perversion are celebrated in Hollywood and shows how far downward society has spiraled. Being treated like a submissive animal is sexy in todays weird world where anything goes.

    • Magic says:

      9 1/2 weeks had similar tones in 1986 and that was considered stylish art filmmaking. Lol! This movienis beyond dumb. It’ll drop of 60% next weekend but it make enough to for a sequel. People’s taste in movies is fading fast when the only premise of the movie is if she’s going to sign a contract or no to be dominated by some billionaire.

  46. Carmie Hagar says:

    I read the boos then watched the movie. Was highly disappointed with the movie. Book was way better then the movie. Hope the next ones (I know there will be at least 2 more because there are 3 books) are better.

  47. Liz985 says:

    Don’t intend to read the book or see the movie, but I’m glad that the movie has done well financially. All the snobs with their smug criticism before it’s release made me want to see it succeed, if for no other reason than Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson are two talented people who deserved not to have their careers sunk before they really got started.

  48. Charles97 says:

    Wouldn’t this be the 5th highest r-rated debut ever? I think you’re forgetting it also trails American Sniper.

  49. konajinx says:

    Record breaking on Valentine’s Day weekend compared to the same weekend on years past.

  50. Grace says:

    Next to “The Interview,” this was one of the worst movies I have seen in years. Just terrible.

  51. Dee says:

    The dawn of the female pervert has arrived.

  52. Commenter says:

    Stop cutting and pasting the same paranoid rant everywhere.

  53. jenny89 says:

    $100 million soon. This is good for the movie Get over yourself.

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