Box Office: ‘Fifty Shades Darker’ No Match for ‘The Lego Batman Movie’

Fifty Shades Darker Trailer
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Break out the whips, the dead dog, and the batarang. “Fifty Shades Darker,” a deeper dive into the world of BDSM and “Twilight” fan fiction; “John Wick: Chapter 2,” a violent exploration about the lengths man will go to avenge pooch; and “The Lego Batman Movie,” the cinematic union of a Danish toymaker and a comic book brand, will all be flooding theaters this weekend. Each film is aimed at distinctly different audiences, offering up something for every age group and gender. The three new releases should turbocharge a sleepy box office.

“This is shaping up to be a big weekend — probably the biggest one of the year so far,” said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “All the studios are trying to get a jump on Valentine’s Day and President’s Day.”

Tracking suggests that “The Lego Batman Movie” will top charts for the weekend, picking up more than $60 million. The film is a spinoff to the 2014 smash, “The Lego Movie,” and is part of a larger push by Warner Bros. to build up its animation division. “The Lego Batman Movie” cost $80 million to make, a relatively economical sum for an animated film at a time when Pixar movies routinely clock in at north of $200 million. “The Lego Batman Movie” follows the caped crusader as he tries to save Gotham City from the Joker. It features the voices of Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, and Ralph Fiennes, and has gotten the kind of reviews that “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” would murder for — Rotten Tomatoes currently has the film at 98 percent “fresh.” Warner Bros. will push this film out in more than 3,400 locations, and in Imax, RealD, and every other conceivable format.

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Some outlets have pointed to the softer tracking for “Fifty Shades Darker” as a sign that the spark has gone out on the romantic drama. The Universal release is eyeing a debut of $40 million, roughly half of what its predecessor “Fifty Shades of Grey” brought in during its opening weekend in 2014. Some of that discrepancy may be attributable to the lack of novelty surrounding billionaire businessmen with a taste for kink (we do live in a post-Russian dossier/golden showers world, after all). But there are also valid reasons why it’s not a hot candle wax-to-hot candle wax comparison. “Fifty Shades of Grey” opened on a holiday weekend, a period that coincided with Valentine’s Day. This year, the annual tribute to love and Hallmark doesn’t occur until next Tuesday, limiting the potential for “Fifty Shades Darker” to become a saucy date night movie. Universal didn’t release a budget for the film, but word is it cost $55 million to make. “Fifty Shades Darker” will be in 3,705 North American locations, although there’s no word yet on whether or not those will include 4DX locations.

That leaves Lionsgate’s “John Wick: Chapter 2” vying for third place. The action thriller is expected to open to just shy of $20 million when it opens in around 3000 locations. Keanu Reeves returns as the title character, a hitman who is adept at finding creative ways to kill people. For PETA’s sake, we hope there’s a lower puppy death count. The first “John Wick” was something of a cult hit, earning $86 million globally. Lionsgate is distributing the film, and, like Universal, declined to give a budget. The first film reportedly cost $20 million to produce, and sequels usually carry higher price tags. Budgets are something of a moving target with studios, who take a magical realist approach to financial accounting. Tax breaks have a habit of fortuitously appearing right when it’s time to report box office results, and executives have a penchant for rhapsodizing about how foreign pre-sales limit their company’s financial exposure to the point where a huge flop doesn’t even register as a blip on the balance sheet. It’s funny because those same rhetorical devices don’t make an appearance when a movie is a big success. Still, it’s alarming that some Hollywood studios have now decided to get out of the business of even bothering to offer up alternative facts. In an industry that thrives on obfuscation, they’d rather not say anything at all.

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  8. Gina Cates says:

    How do you compared the Lego move (basically a children’s movie) to Fifty Shades Darker? Which is an Adult Romantic (kink your words not mine) Movie?? It’s ridiculous to compare both movies together in how much they will gross opening weekend. It’s just makes it easier for you and others to put down the Fifty Shades movie. Why aren’t you comparing Batman Lego movie with John Wick grosses??

  9. jim says:

    we usually go see the big movies when they open and were going to see john wick this weekend.

  10. Spider says:

    My money is on “John Wick: Chapter 2”. Now, this flick is highly anticipated!

  11. T C Lower says:

    This is the second article today about Fifty Shades Darker that is not reported correctly. The Daily Mail in UK reported the Hamburg premiere as happening in Berlin. This article says the film is debuting in theatres on Tuesday instead of this weekend and uses estimated figures to predict attendance. To lead with the headline it is no match for the Batman Lego movie is just a sad commentary on what is being released and deemed popular taste. The ridiculous commentary about this film only being about bdsm, sex, or being about changing a man demonstrates ignorance about the books. This is about an abused 4 yr old child and then teenaged boy who maladapts to cope and then finds true love to help his struggle through the pain of changing his coping mechanisms. It’s not for everyone but movies about talking lego toys and movies of this genre are incomparable. Unless it all boils down to money. Really, can’t we be less shallow and create better content?

  12. Josh says:

    “Just shy of 20 million” is definitely underestimating the love that John Wick found after theater. I’m not saying it’s going to make superhero money, but it’s going to open much higher than 20 million.

  13. Nanny Mo says:

    At least with the Lego movie I won’t have to go to confession afterwards. Come on admit it, 50 shades is just a dumb twist on Beauty and the Beast. Every woman likes to fantasize that we can fix some man, the truth of the matter is they usually end up only annoying us as we pretend. Let the fantasy go sisters! Lego movie, it is!

    • millerfilm says:

      There are far too many women who go for abusive men. I guess that having one actually whip them is the next level of that dysfunction.

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