Box-Office Preview: 'Fifty Shades' to Stay No. 1, Races Past $100M in U.S.

Courtesy of Universal

A trio of smaller films enter the fray over Oscar weekend — 'Hot Tub Time Machine 2,' 'The DUFF' and Kevin Costner sports drama 'McFarland, USA.'

Universal's Fifty Shades of Grey will have no trouble dunking the competition in its second outing — the question being by just how much.

All eyes will be on the movie to see how steeply it falls off after its record-breaking $85 million debut over Valentine's Day and Presidents Day weekend. Most are betting that Fifty Shades will earn another $30 million over Oscar weekend, easily outpacing new entries Hot Tub Time Machine 2, teen comedy The DUFF and the inspirational sports drama McFarland, USA, starring Kevin Costner.

Fifty Shades, based on EL James' S&M-laced romance novel, is nothing short of a box-office dominatrix. On Wednesday, the film — costing a relatively modest $40 million to make — raced past the $300 million mark globally after clocking in at $102.7 million domestically and $209 million internationally for total ticket sales of $311.7 million.

Universal has yet to announce specific plans for the next Fifty Shades movie — James wrote three books — including whether Sam Taylor-Johnson will return to direct. Stars Jamie Doran and Dakota Johnson both have options.

The race for the No. 2 spot could potentially see a close race between holdovers Kingsman: The Secret Service, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water and the male-fueled Hot Tub 2. Generally speaking, most movies will take a hit on Sunday because of the Academy Awards ceremony. One new title looking to benefit from the Oscars is Wild Tales, which Sony Pictures Classics opens in select cities. The black comedy, from Argentina, is nominated for best foreign-language film.

From Paramount and MGM, Hot Tub 2 is tipped to earn $15 million or more. Director Steve Pink's sequel, opening nearly five years after the first film debuted to $14 million, returns most of the original cast, including Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clarke Duke and Chevy Chase, though no John Cusack. New faces include Adam Scott.

Hot Tub 2 isn't an expensive proposition, having cost $14 million to make. This time out, the crew inadvertently land in the future.

CBS Films' teen comedy The DUFF is tracking to open in the $7 million to $9 million range. Targeting girls, the movie is the first CBS Films title to be released by Lionsgate per their new partnership. Mae Whitman (Parenthood) stars as Bianca, who makes herself over after learning she's the "designated ugly fat friend" of two more-popular girls. The ensemble cast also includes Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Bianca Santos and Skyler Samuels.

The weekend's third new offering, McFarland, stars Costner as Jim White, the real-life coach who teamed with underdog kids to build a championship cross-country team at McFarland High School, a predominately Hispanic school in McFarland, Calif. The Disney film, costing $25 million to make, was originally supposed to open in November.

Directed by Niki Caro, McFarland also stars Carlos Pratts, Valente Rodriguez, Maria Bello and Morgan Saylor.

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