Box Office: ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Torches Records With $94.4 Million Debut


Fifty Shades of Grey” made moviegoers its slave over Presidents Day weekend, shattering records and heating up the box office with a staggering $94.4 million debut over the four-day holiday.

That easily trumped the previous high of $63.1 million set by “Valentine’s Day” in 2010. The film took advantage of Valentine’s Day falling over the holiday weekend, presenting itself as a saucy evening out for couples looking to spice up their love lives. It also became the fourth-biggest R-rated opening in history and the second-biggest for a female director behind “The Matrix Reloaded,” which was co-directed by Lana Wachowski. The latter record is the subject of some debate. “The Matrix” director was still billed as Larry Wachowski at the time of the film’s release and had not yet transitioned.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” also did massive business internationally, debuting in 9,637 locations across 58 territories where Valentine’s Day is celebrated. It had earned nearly $160 million at the foreign box office through Sunday.

Universal Pictures and Focus Features produced the adaptation of E.L. James’ best-selling phenomenon for an economical $40 million. It did not disclose its marketing and distribution costs, but that still sets the studio up for some healthy profit margins.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” was directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and stars Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson. It centers on a billionaire with a kinky side and the college student who falls for him.

Despite “Fifty Shades of Grey’s” dominance, newcomer “Kingsman: The Secret Service” managed to carve out a place for itself as the male alternative to all the bondage and sexual exploration. The cheeky spy thriller brought in a robust $42 million. “Kingsman” was produced by 20th Century Fox for $81 million. “X-Men: First Class” helmer Matthew Vaughn directed the film, which stars Colin Firth as an urbane secret service agent and newcomer Taron Egerton as his protege.

With two R-rated films capturing the first and second rungs on the chart, “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” enjoyed its status as the clear choice for family audiences. The animated sequel pulled in $40 million over the four-day period, pushing its total to $103.1 million.

“American Sniper” shot past the $300 million mark, adding $19.5 million to its domestic haul, while “Jupiter Ascending” rounded out the top five, picking up $10.7 million and pushing its total to $33.8 million.

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  1. says:

    I read all 3 books and loved the movie although I’m not at all interested nor curious about BDSM lifestyle. To me, it’s all about the powerful love story and it is the shy woman Ana who holds all the power over the drop-dead gorgeous, panties-dropping, smoldering hot sexy billionaire, megalomaniac, Alpha male dominant Christian. How’s that for a psychological twistedness in logic? Pure gold! Can’t wait for the next 2 sequels. #byehaters

  2. Catherine Wind-Muro says:
    February 17, 2015 at 9:45 pm
    Well book had more dialogue, and more left to the imagination. The characters come to life in the book the movie just was focused on Christian and Anastasia, which if the other characters came to life it would’ve been better movie. But I give it an 8 out of 10 it good.
    Love the cast but give them the parts that was written in the book.
    If you even have to make two movies for one book that will be good to, just do it like the book
    Don’t rush the movie, just focus on the book thats is why it sold so many books because it a great book and well written.
    Catherine Wind-Muro

  3. Scott Barksdale says:

    $94.4 million is not record-breaking. That doesn’t even approach the standing record (The Avengers, with over $200 million over its 3-day opening weekend). Very misleading title.

    • Patrick Juvet says:

      Variety is a business newspaper for the entertainment industry, and all businesses compare year-to-year & historical results. It was quite accurate calling this a record-breaking debut . Period.

    • Tazuki Kurata says:

      Didn’t you read the article? It’s the February records, both domestic and international. People should have read the article before writing comments, seriously.

      • JP says:

        Actually it has nothing to do with reading the article. When publishing something, an article’s title must fit that with the article, so saying something’s like record breaking début for February would be more appropriate, the only reason I came to this article was because it said it broke a record but I was about to say Avengers broke it until I read for February which makes more sense. So all in all the title is extremely misleading Tazuki Kurata

  4. Domestic Violence and rape… yep, thats what I go to the movies to see!!

    • ferrall70 says:

      it is fiction and there is neither domestic violence nor rape, lighten up

      • E L Dorn says:

        Agreed!!! Those circles call that rough stuff SEX. No matter what they called it. That book was GOOD. All three of them. And it wasn’t just the sexy. Christian LOVED Ana sooooo
        much. And she him. The love story was just ………

      • ferrall70 says:

        It is fiction people, stop over analyzing it. If you are not into the psychological or physical aspect of this type of book, skip over it. It is really simple. A book being fiction means just that, it is made up, not to be taken seriously. Author came up with a premise, a female author , and wrote about it. It was good fodder for women to discuss sexual fantasies, for it to be assailed for anything that fantasy is pretty vacuous.

      • Sahri21 says:

        Domestic violence comes in many forms. Christian intimidates Ana in many instances. Not only that but she openly admits that he is a stalker (He traces down her work, her phone, and her home without her consent and shows up in all of these instances) and she is constantly afraid of him. Afraid of him hurting her both physically AND mentally. Just because it is not what people normally think of as domestic violence does not mean that it didn’t happen. Also, “just fiction” is not an excuse. When bad behavior is appropriate in a story and women fall for the lead male despite his quite alarming behavior that’s speaking volumes about our culture.

      • Scott Barksdale says:

        Not actually true. You clearly haven’t read the books. They are full of emotional and physical abuse and intimidation. Although there’s no rape.

  5. taresa says:

    I read the books , but seeing the movie made so much more awesome !!! can not wait to see the sequels !!! great movie

    • E L Dorn says:

      Which movie did you see??? I can’t wait to see the sequels either. The movie was rushed and did not stick to the book. It seems the only people I talk to who liked the movie have not yet read the trilogy. It makes sense. Their expectations were not so high…like mine. I didn’t expect everything from the book to be in the movie but what was used could have been like the book.jeez!!!

  6. ferrall70 says:

    This movie was bound to do well

  7. Renee Kowach says:

    Loved it. Can’t wait to see the next two sequels!!!!!!!!! Loved the books too, of course!!!!!

    • M says:

      The books were horribly written, with the first being starting out as Twilight fan fiction, and the whole time having a very horrific portrayal of a bdsm lifestyle that is hiding an abusive relationship which involves rape as well as emotional abuse.

      • ferrall70 says:

        OK time to take your medications. The book was not written to be a literary masterpiece of well written fiction, it was written to entertain and evoke discussion, and hopefully emancipate women sexually. Did i miss something where was the abusive relationship and rape? There no rape involved in the books at all…are you sure you’re talking about fifty shades?

  8. jenna says:

    I really.enjoyed this movie and.enjoyed the book trilogy. Obviously not.everyone was keen on the critics and.their relentless bashing of this movie. Or the.ridiculous idea that it is rape and abuse. Those people who say that did not read the book. And are too ignorant to.even waste.time arguing with. Keep talking people…any.publicity is good publicity. Your outrage and ridiculous uncallled for insults means more money . Cha ching. 50 shades will keep on crushing it regardless of how many times you can type an over the top or how many jump on the bandwagon.

    • ferrall70 says:

      People over analyzing it are engaging in 50 shades of stupidity. Actually if you read all 3 books, there is tacit consent for everything…..

    • M says:

      So when Christian actually get’s her drunk to get her to do what he wants, that’s not rape? Even though by all legal terms it IS rape as she can not legally give consent? You are aware of what an actual bdsm relationship is like right? If you actually did, then you’d know what the hell you were talking about instead of romanticizing the relationship. It’s almost as bad as the relationship in Twilight and how heavily codependent Bella was on Edward, but people kept calling it “romantic”.

      • ferrall70 says:

        Did she pass out and was unable to consent? No not by any legal terms is it rape, she is able to give consent and he is sober enough to understand consent. Being drunk does not mean your not capable for consenting to sex…..that is completely misinformation you’re spouting off. You obviously have some ridiculous hang up with this movie projecting your own insecurities into it.

  9. I am pretty sure Lana Wachowski was still Larry Wachowski when The Matrix Reloaded came out.

  10. Alex says:

    Liberals are pissed “American Sniper” is a hit

    Critics are pissed “50 Shades of Grey” is a hit

    Gold Fish are pissed the “Sponge Bob” movie is a hit

  11. Is there a box office record for all 365 days of the year?

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s a symptom of our society which gives everyone a participation trophy – twist the results into whatever contortions are necessary to claim everything is the best of something, if you define it narrowly enough.

  12. jOHN says:

    I am faux outraged at your use of the term “Slave” during black history month! Seriously, you could have used a better term.

  13. Joanna says:

    Uhhh yes it is about rape. There are several instances in the book where she does not consent or wants to leave and he forces her to have sex or stalks her and isolates her from her friends and family. Classic abusive behavior. Almost all abuse victims can compare what their abusers said and did to them to how he acts in the movie.

    • ferrall70 says:

      There is no rape in the book. When someone is wanting to have sex with someone, and is attracted to that person and consents that is not rape. He never at any point in time forces her to have sex against her will. What the hell are people reading and inferring? Some people have nothing better than to do to waste promoting their own insecurites. It is a book who cares what is glorifies, was it entertaining and did people like the book? it is a piece of fiction. It elicited discourse on the kinky lifestyle that many women have been intrigued by because they have never experienced themselves. For people to sit here and over analyze a piece of FICTION, is comical. Some people are really hard up for excitement in their lives and like to make themselves more important by being contrarians.

    • Zoey says:

      The movie is not an exact adaptation of the novel. I understand and agree with the complaints about the book (that’s why I only read an extended excerpt), but comments like yours mislead people into believing that rape takes place in the film. It does not. The studio wanted it to appeal to as large an audience as possible. Do you honestly think that a commercial project of this magnitude would depict the male lead as a rapist? Yes, he engages in S&M because that was imprinted on him at the young age of 15 as his first sexual experience. But the trilogy will focus on how he shifts away from this destructive behavior because of the woman he loves. That’s what makes this story relevant, and why the film will continue to resonate with countless viewers.

  14. Samantha says:

    My money gladly helped it make soar in the box office! It was what I expected and plan on seeing it In the theaters again as well as buy it as soon as it comes out! The only complaint would be that “Christian” wasn’t naked nearly enough:)

  15. bobbi says:

    my husband and I both read the books and we also went to see the movie. The movie was really good and stayed with the book outline really well. This movie is not about rape… rape is when one person does not consent to sex. It is rated “R” for a reason and if you are offended by the content, then don’t go see it but do not judge those that do. We are not into the whole bondage scene but it doesn’t mean that other parts do not “spark” interest. It is the flirting and the banter that goes back and forth that makes this movie good.

  16. JD Santini says:

    Give me a BREAK with your PC “Lana Wachowski” crap. You’ve GOT to be kidding me. Completely absurd to mention that even as a footnote. And now Sam Taylor-Johnson has to settle for “second biggest” opening from a female director? I don’t have a problem with people who “transition” but to have it be part of this story is beyond ridiculous. I’ve just deleted Variety from my bookmarks list.

    • JS says:

      Darn, I’m sure they will write you a letter begging you to bookmark them again.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is an example of where special interest groups need to realize that their agendas can be at cross purposes – LGBT interests and feminist interests are not necessarily compatible, so it can be difficult to claim knee-jerk support of both.

  17. Mark Glomski says:

    The movie is not about rape. The movie is better than the book. The whole thing reminds me of “the Happy Hooker” and was more interesting when I was 14 years old. I love it when critics hate something that sells. I can’t wait to see the plastic bondage toys at Target.

  18. John says:

    I don’t see the need to disparage those who saw Fifty Shades of Grey. I read a lot of comments online from lonely singles or unhappy couples (perhaps confirmation bias?) and don’t blame them for being curious or trying to spice up their love lives. Our sexual views and appetites have slightly changed since the Puritan Days and if two (or more ;-)) consensual adults want to try something a little… different, I say go for it.

    As someone who reads the world news daily, filled with war, political and corporate corruption, poverty, and starvation, there are worse activities to engage in than finding silliness, happiness, or a spark from Fifty Shades of Grey. For the record, my friends and I watched Kingsman: The Secret Service.

    • says:

      If you didn’t read the book nor watch 50 Shades movie, why bother to comment on this? Passive aggressive much?

    • Jedi77 says:

      I agree.
      Though I do hate it when badly written films make money. Every time a Transformers or a Fifty Shades of Grey movie break BO records, a writer loses his wings:-(

  19. Yep, society has descended to the bowels of ridiculousness if anyone thinks 50 Shades of Gross is a quality film. How on earth can anyone leave their home with the express purpose of watching a film that glorifies abuse and rape is beyond me.

    • says:

      One – Did you even read the book or watch the movies? Two – There’s no rape in the book nor movie. ‘Nuf said.

  20. debbarone says:

    Clearly the critics, who gave the movie 1 1//2 stars, are out of touch with what general audiences want in a movie. Also, it’s clear that movie go-ers give little reliance on the opinions of the “critics” when making a movie selection.

    • no says:

      Ugh… Is this a 12 year old making this argument? There cant be an adult in this day and age, making this tired, lame, ignorant, uninformed, out of date comment about commerce vs artistry.

  21. christieo says:

    the critics gave this movie 1 1/2 stars. what a bunch of morons we have become running like idiots to see a piece of crap movie. I can only say that the world is crazy. what is it, don’t they get it at home. and they are making millions, and they honestly think they are movie stars. I give up.

  22. anne says:

    Good example of how far our tastes have fallen.

  23. 15 Movies Ahead of Their Time: Why are they all in color? Weren’t there any black and white films “ahead of their time”? I notice in all similar surveys, you only include color films. That leaves an awful lot of film history out of the picture.

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