Universal’s “Fifty Shades of Grey” is dominating the North American box office, with early Friday estimates pointing to a launch as high as $85 million at 3,646 locations.
The erotic romance was on track to deliver an opening day of $26 million-$30 million Friday, including $8.6 million in Thursday-night grosses, as Universal’s highest-grossing latenight preview ever.
The Friday results would equate to a launch in the $75 million to $85 million range, showing that Universal has been exceedingly cautious in recent forecasts of an opening weekend of about $50 million. “Fifty Shades” appears to be outperforming even rival predictions of a weekend in the $70 million to $80 million range.
Marketing has been massive for “Fifty Shades,” starring Jamie Dornan as a billionaire into bondage and Dakota Johnson as a smitten college student. Public awareness is sky-high thanks to the blockbuster success of the E.L. James novels.
“Fifty Shades” carries a relatively demure $40 million production budget, so Universal will be in the black long before the end of the weekend. It’s directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson from Kelly Marcel’s script and produced by Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti alongside E.L. James.
Pent-up demand for “Fifty Shades,” stoked for more than a year by Universal and Focus, should easily give it a Presidents Day weekend record of $63 million, set in 2010 by “Valentine’s Day.”
Universal began opening “Fifty Shades” internationally on Wednesday. It had taken in $28 million at the end of Thursday, setting studio records in nearly every market.
The weekend’s other opening, Fox’s “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” is also looking like it will overperform following recent forecasts that the R-rated action adventure would take around $30 million for the four days. Early estimates saw Friday numbers ranging from $12 million to $13 million for a four-day total around $40 million.
“Kingsman,” starring Colin Firth and Samuel L. Jackson, cost approximately $80 million to produce and has already opened in several foreign markets such as the U.K. and Australia, where it’s grossed $17.7 million to date.