After early weekend estimates placed Fifty Shades of Grey at around the $76 million threshold for the weekend, the final tally for the film ended up surpassing even that lofty goal. According to Box Office Mojo and analysts at Variety, the adaptation of the E.L. James novel ended up taking in $81.6 million domestically, making the film the highest-ever opening for the President’s Day weekend.
It absolutely destroyed the weekend’s previous record holder, 2010’s Valentine’s Day, which took in $56.3 million in its opening weekend five years ago. Because of the word of mouth and general controversy surrounding the book that the film is based on, analysts believe that the general climate of curiosity about the subject matter largely fueled the box office take, positioning the modestly produced $40 million budgeted film as a hit for Universal Pictures. While originally slated to be released last October, Universal instead decided to market the film as a “forbidden love” story, thematically placing its new release to accompany the Valentine’s Day holiday. This was likely an excellent marketing strategy, and likely helped account for its new found success in the normally quiet February month at the box office.
According to a further piece from Variety, the President’s Day weekend record wasn’t the only one broken by the film. Others include biggest single-day February gross with $36.7 million (breaking the record previously held by The Passion of the Christ), Universal Pictures’ second biggest international debut at $158 million (second only to Fast & Furious 6, which opened at $160.3 million), and biggest R-rated international opening ever (breaking the record previously held by The Matrix Revolutions).
It’ll be interesting to see if the film can continue to fly in the face of its relatively poor critical reception and continue to rack up the money at the box office in the weeks to come. For more on Fifty Shades of Grey, be sure to check out our review of the film by Eric D. Snider, and to keep an eye on GeekNation for any further developments.
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