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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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