The threequel is the final title in the femme-fueled franchise, which jumped the $1 billion mark in combined ticket sales on Friday; 'Peter Rabbit' and Clint Eastwood's 'The 15:17 to Paris' also open.
Universal's Fifty Shades Freed is sizzling at the global box office, where it's on course to post a global debut of $140 million.
The threequel closes out the female-fueled film franchise based on the BDSM-laced novels by E.L. James. On Friday, the movie series jumped the $1 billion mark in worldwide ticket sales, an impressive showing considering the three films cost a combined $150 million to produce (that doesn't include marketing costs).
In North America, Fifty Shades Freed posted an opening-day gross of $18.5 million from 3,768 theaters for a projected $40 million weekend (Friday's haul included $5.6 million in Thursday evening previews.) Overseas, Fifty Shades Freed is looking at a $100 million debut after already taking in $50.7 million since rolling out midweek in select markets.
Dakota Johnson once again stars as Anastasia Steele, while Jamie Dornan reprises the role of Christian Grey.
The first film, Fifty Shades of Grey, opened to $85.1 million domestically in February 2015. At that time, James' books were a global sensation. Sequel Fifty Shades Darker opened to $46.6 million two years later.
The other two nationwide entries are the family film Peter Rabbit and Clint Eastwood's terrorist drama The 15:17 to Paris.
A CGI/live-action hybrid, Sony's Peter Rabbit came in No. 2 on Friday with $5.7 million from 3,725 theaters, putting it on course for a $22 million debut. James Corden voices the iconic rabbit created by author Beatrix Potter. The voice cast also includes Domhnall Gleeson and Rose Byrne.
Prolific director Clint Eastwood returns to the marquee with The 15:17 to Paris, a recounting of the true story of three Americans who helped thwart an attack on a French train in 2016. Village Roadshow Entertainment and Warner Bros. partnered on the film, which is pacing to gross $12 million in its launch from 3,042 theaters. On Friday, 57 percent of ticket buyers were over the age of 50.
The 15:17 to Paris, headed for a third-place finish domestically, is launching day-and-date in 23 foreign markets, including France. In an unusual turn, Eastwood cast the real-life heroes — Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler — as his film's stars.
Fifty Shades Freed received a B+ CinemaScore, Peter Rabbit an A- and 15:17, a B-.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and The Greatest Showman are expected to round out the top five.
Feb. 9, 12:15 p.m. Updated with early Friday returns and weekend estimates.
Feb. 10, 7:15 a.m.. Updated with Friday grosses and revised weekend estimates.