Universal’s “Fifty Shades of Grey” remains dominant at the U.S. box office — despite projections that see it plunging 70% to an estimated $25 million in its second weekend at 3,655 theaters.
The decline is not a surprise following the eye-popping $85 million opening weekend. The performance is similar to the second weekends of “Sex and the City” and “The Fault in Our Stars,” two female-driven films that dazzled during their opening weekends and then fell quickly.
“Fifty Shades” was tracking for an $8.5 million total on Friday. It will finish the weekend with a U.S. total of $132 million for its first 10 days — a highly profitable return for the studio, given its $40 million production cost.
Word of mouth on the adaptation of E.L. James’ bestselling phenomenon has been unimpressive, with a lackluster C+ CinemaScore.
Still, “Shades” left three new entries — CBS Films-Lionsgate’s high-school comedy “The DUFF,” Disney’s inspirational sports drama “McFarland USA” and Paramount/MGM’s “Hot Tub Time Machine 2” — in the dust with opening weekends in the $8 million to $11 million range.
“McFarland USA,” starring Kevin Costner as a high school cross-country coach, appeared to be posting the best estimated opening day among the new films with $3.7 million at 2,767 locations on Friday, followed by $3.6 million for “The DUFF” with $3.6 million and “Hot Tub Time Machine 2” with $3.5 million.
Thursday night showings saw “The DUFF” take in $400,000 while “Hot Tub Time Machine 2” grossed a lukewarm $366,000 at 2,052 locations before expanding to 2,880 on Friday. The sequel, an R-rated comedy, stars Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson and Adam Scott and comes five years after the original opened with $14 million on its way toa $50 million total.
A pair of holdovers — Fox’s second weekend of “Kingsman: The Secret Service” and Paramount’s third frame of “SpongeBob SquarePants: Sponge Out of Water” — were battling for second place with about $16 million each.
Warner Bros.’ sixth weekend of “American Sniper” will battle the three new films for fourth place in the $10 million range. As of Thursday, the Iraq War drama had reached $310 million in domestic box office.
By the end of its run, “American Sniper” will probably have surpassed “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1,” now at $336 million, as the top domestic grosser released in 2014.