‘Fifty Shades Freed’ dominates its first weekend

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‘Fifty Shades Freed’ dominates its first weekend

LOS ANGELES - Newcomers “Fifty Shades Freed,” “Peter Rabbit” and “The 15:17 to Paris” breathed some life into a marketplace that has for weeks been dominated by “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” “The Greatest Showman” and various Oscar contenders. But it’s all just setting the stage for “Black Panther,” which opens next week.

“Fifty Shades Freed” managed to take the top spot in theaters. The final chapter in the Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele saga earned an estimated $38.8 million over the weekend. Women once again made up the vast majority (75%) of the opening weekend audience.

“We are exhilarated with the results,” said Jim Orr, Universal’s president of domestic distribution. “To have a trilogy engineered primarily for a female audience that we were then able to broaden out into a billion-dollar franchise is just a fantastic result.”

The steamy romance outdid other new competitors like the CGI and live-action update of “Peter Rabbit,” featuring the voice of James Corden, and Clint Eastwood’s “The 15:17 to Paris,” starring the real men who thwarted an attack on a Paris-bound train in 2015.

“Peter Rabbit” hopped to second place with a solid $25 million and an A-minus from audiences on CinemaScore.

“The 15:17 to Paris” pulled into third place with $12.6 million.

The box office is down 27 percent from the same weekend last year, which saw the launch of “The Lego Batman Movie,” “Fifty Shades Darker” and “John Wick: Chapter 2,” each of which opened with more $30 million.

But things will pick up with Black Panther, which some analysts are pegging for a $150 million start.

“This is the calm before the Marvel storm,” says comScore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “Black Panther is going to supercharge this marketplace... It’s going to break records and spark a huge conversation.” AP
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