Fifty Shades of Grey pulled in $30.2 from its box office debut on Friday and is projected to gross $80 million over the long President’s Day Weekend. Kingsman: The Secret Service is No. 2 with $36 million while The Sponge Bob Movie: Sponge Out of Water comes in third at $30 million.
Astoundingly, the film did even better overseas. It is opening at No. 1 in over 50 markets, with an expected international launch of nearly $160 million. That would make Fifty Shades of Grey the highest opening for an R-Rated film and the second highest for Universal, behind Fast and Furious 6 ($160.3 million).
Fox film domestic distributor Chris Aronson commented on the success and controversy of the film.
“We knew [‘Fifty Shades of Grey‘] was going to be a big movie, but it seemed like everyone else was staying away and we saw an opportunity. This is a terrific, smart action movie that’s primarily geared toward males.”
The opening weekend audience for Fifty Shades of Grey was 68 percent female, 52 percent Caucasian, 22 percent Hispanic, and 15 percent African American.
Fifty Shades of Grey is the adaptation of British author E.L. James’ novel about a romance between business magnate Christian Grey (Jamie Dorman) and college student Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson).
When Anastasia’s best friend and roommate Kate Kavanagh (Eloise Mumford) falls ill and can’t interview Grey for the school newspaper, she sends her friend to fill in. Christian is handsome, but “intimidating,” and Anastasia believes she failed the interview. But Christian visits Anastasia’s workplace and pursues her.
They soon begin their love affair — which includes bondage and discipline — because of Christian’s need for control. The themes of S&M and violence against women in a sexual context has stirred controversy among feminists.
Thistle Peterssen, who describes herself as an activist, organized a protest against Fifty Shades of Grey in Madison, Wisconsin.
“I think most feminists agree that this movie is harmful to women who have experienced sexual abuse in their relationships and harmful to women in general… It’s Valentine’s Day, and violence against women is not sexy. It’s not loving. It’s not romantic, and so I feel like we need to speak out against that.”
Dawn Hawkins, of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, said without the glamour, the theme of the film is domestic violence and sexual abuse against women.
The book, which the film is based on, is the first in a trilogy. The other two installments are Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. Plans are in the works to adapt the installments for the big screen too.
Fifty Shades of Grey, despite the themes of violence, S&M and what some refer to as “mommy porn,” has a large following of loyal female fans.
[Image: New York Daily News]