Box Office Preview: 'Fifty Shades' Eyes Potent $100M-Plus Global Opening
In the U.S., the film adaptation of EL James' steamy novel is expected to gross $60 million or more over the long Valentine's Day and Presidents Day weekend but could beat expectations.
After nearly three years of buildup, the R-rated Fifty Shades of Grey is poised to seduce female audiences around the globe this weekend for a worldwide debut north of $100 million.
In the U.S., Universal and Focus Features' adaptation of EL James' steamy S&M novel is expected to gross $60 million or more over the four-day Valentine's Day and Presidents Day weekend, although Universal is being more cautious and saying $50 million-plus.
Many box-office experts believe Fifty Shades could outperform all industry expectations, considering the massive awareness surrounding the film, directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan.
Either way, it will easily beat Matthew Vaughn's Kingsman: The Secret Service, starring Colin Firth, to top the box-office chart. Kingsman, from Fox, is eyeing a four-day debut of $30 million or more.
Overseas — where Fifty Shades makes its worldwide premiere at the Berlin Film Festival Wednesday night — the $40 million film is opening virtually everywhere where allowed (Malaysia, a predominately Muslim country, has banned Fifty Shades, while other Muslim countries aren't likely to play it either).
According to tracking, Fifty Shades should nab north of $50 million internationally. James' Fifty Shades trilogy has been translated into 52 languages and sold more than 100 million copies worldwide. In terms of advance ticket sales for the movie, Fifty Shades is the fastest-selling R-rated title in history in the U.S. and could have $10 million in the bank before it even opens in theaters. Advance ticket sales in multiple foreign territories have likewise hit unprecedented levels.
Fifty Shades did result in friction between James and Taylor-Johnson. The author, who was given unprecedented control over the making of the $40 million movie, reportedly wanted more explicit sex scenes, while the director opted for a more subtle approach.
In marketing the film, Universal has sold Fifty Shades as a romance. But because of its erotic themes, comparison to other R-rated, female-fueled properties are difficult. Sex and the City debuted to $57 million, while Magic Mike opened to $39 million. The big question is how many males will turn out for Fifty Shades.
Also rated R, Kingsman: The Secret Service hopes to serve as counterprogramming to Fifty Shades, luring both males and younger females. The comic book adaptation, described as James Bond-meets-Kick-Ass, stars Firth as a British spy training his protege.
Valentine's Day is a big moviegoing day for couples, and everyone will be watching to see which film gets the biggest date-night bump.