Box Office: ‘Fifty Shades’ to Rule ‘Hot Tub Time Machine 2,’ ‘McFarland, USA’

Most Anticipated Movies of 2015

Will audiences come back for seconds or will the thrill surrounding “Fifty Shades of Grey” evaporate by the time the erotic drama’s sophomore weekend rolls around?

That’s the big question facing studios and exhibitors as a trio of new releases try to shoulder in on Christian Grey’s action.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” outdid expectations last weekend, bowing to a record-breaking $85.1 million and setting a new benchmark for February debuts in the process. However, most analysts expect that the film will be similar to “Sex and the City” and “The Fault in Our Stars,” two female-driven films that sizzled during their opening weekends but cooled off quickly. Those pictures dropped between 60% and 70% in their follow-up weekends, so “Fifty Shades of Grey” should reasonably expect a similar tumble.

Word of mouth on Universal and Focus Features’ adaptation of E.L. James’ bestselling phenomenon is lackluster, with audiences handing the picture a humdrum C+ CinemaScore (for context, recent dud “Jupiter Ascending” managed to eke out a B- grade). That said, the picture performed well on Monday and Tuesday, so there could be enough moviegoers out there curious about the contents of Mr. Grey’s Red Room to keep ticket counters busy.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” should do about $30 million in its follow-up frame, which is still a fantastic result for a film that cost $40 million to make. The picture will likely cross $100 million Stateside by the time tickets are tallied on Wednesday.

Fox’s “Kingsman: The Secret Service” will have no trouble retaining the second rung on the charts. The tongue-in-stiff-upper-lip spy film made an impressive $36.2 million when it opened against “Fifty Shades of Grey” last weekend. It should do $18 million in its second weekend.

That leaves a group of newcomers, all aimed at different segments of the moviegoing public, squabbling for leftovers. Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer are teaming up on “Hot Tub Time Machine 2,” which brings back many of the major players from the 2010 cult comedy, save for John Cusack. The original picture did $50.3 million domestically and was a bigger success on DVD (remember those?) and home-entertainment platforms. The latest film will roll out at approximately 2,800 venues, where it should bring in $13 million. That’s a healthy result for a picture that cost $14 million to produce. Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson and Adam Scott star in the film, which was directed by Steve Pink, who oversaw the first film.

“Hot Tub” should attract males and fans of gross-out comedy, while Disney will target family audiences with the sports drama “McFarland, USA.” The film is based on a true story and follows a track coach (Kevin Costner) who inspires a group of racers from a predominantly Latino high school. It’s from Mayhem Pictures, the producers of “Million Dollar Arm” and “The Rookie,” and cost $25 million to produce. “McFarland, USA” should pull in $9 million when it debuts at 2,755 locations.

That leaves the CBS Films and Lionsgate release “The DUFF” close behind. The high school comedy was produced for $8.5 million and has earned strong reviews from critics. It’s aimed at girls who might have trouble securing passage to “Fifty Shades of Grey” without a fake ID. “The DUFF” rolls out across more than 2,000 screens and should pull in $8 million.

Among limited releases, Sony Pictures Classics will debut Oscar-nominated foreign language film “Wild Tales” and BBC Worldwide will offer up “Queen and Country,” director John Boorman’s look at his years in basic training during the throes of the Korean War.