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‘Fifty Shades Freed’ to Tie Up $38 Million in Domestic Opening Weekend

Universal’s opening of “Fifty Shades Freed” is dominating North American moviegoing as it heads toward a $38 million opening at 3,678 locations, early estimates showed Friday.

Thursday night previews for erotic romancer took in $5.6 million, which will be included in a Friday total projected at $17 million. The finale of the “Fifty Shades” trilogy is also launching in 57 international markets this weekend and had already grossed $25 million in its first two days outside North America.

Friday estimates showed Sony’s launch of family comedy “Peter Rabbit” should wind up with $5.5 million on Friday, leaving it above earlier forecasts at about $22 million at 3,725 sites. Warner Bros.’ debut of Clint Eastwood’s thriller “15:17 to Paris” is performing in line with earlier projections with around $12 million at 3,042 venues for the weekend.

A pair of durable holdovers, both in their eighth weekends, will take the next two slots with Sony’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” finishing with about $10 million at 3,126 sites and Fox’s “The Greatest Showman” projected to gross more than $6 million. “Jumanji” will finish the weekend with about $365 million in 38th place on the all-time domestic grosser list, $3 million behind “Despicable Me 2.”

The weekend should see a significant increase in moviegoing in the wake of a slow Super Bowl session with $94 million overall, according to comScore. Moviegoing will receive another major boost over the Presidents Day weekend with Disney-Marvel’s “Black Panther” forecasted to take in as much as $150 million during the Friday-Monday period.

Fifty Shades Freed” sees Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson return as Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele in the conclusion of the events set in motion in 2015’s “Fifty Shades of Grey” and 2017’s “Fifty Shades Darker.” Together, the first two films of the trilogy have grossed nearly $950 million worldwide. Universal has been promoting “Fifty Shades Freed” in recent months with the single-entendre tagline, “Don’t Miss the Climax.”

The projected “Fifty Shades Freed” launch isn’t as strong as its predecessors, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which opened with $85.2 million in 2015, and “Fifty Shades Darker,” which opened with $46.6 million on the same weekend last year.

Tracking on “Peter Rabbit,” a live-action/CGI animated film from Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation, is tricky to predict since children are its core demographic. James Corden is voicing Peter Rabbit in a contemporary comedy highlighted by his feud with Mr. Thomas McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson) as they rival for the affections of the warm-hearted animal lover who lives next door, played by Rose Byrne.

Eastwood’s “15:17 to Paris”  is based on the book “The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Heroes” by Jeffrey E. Stern, Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, and Alek Skarlatos, about the 2015 Thalys train attack. The film stars Stone, Sadler, and Skarlatos as themselves. Judy Greer and Jenna Fischer also star.

Year-to-date box office is down 1.4% as of Feb. 7 to $1.09 billion, according to comScore. Sony’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” has been the biggest contributor, winning all the weekends except for the Jan. 26 -28 frame when “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” took the top spot.

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