Love it or hate it, the box office is about to get hot again with the release of Fifty Shades Freed, the final installment of the Fifty Shades franchise.
Fifty Shades Freed sees Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson return as Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele in the conclusion of the events set in motion in 2015’s Fifty Shades of Grey and 2017’s Fifty Shades Darker. Together, the first two films of the trilogy have grossed nearly $950 million worldwide (the release of the new film will push it over $1 billion worldwide which is pretty staggering for a franchise with only three installments). Universal has been promoting Fifty Shades Freed in recent months with the single-entendre tagline, “Don’t Miss the Climax.”
While I would love to diss the franchise and its diminishing returns since the first film was released in 2015, there is no denying the franchise is a worldwide phenomenon and that it’s not all about its domestic performance in the end. The first film opened to a massive $85.1 million and tapped out at $166.1 million domestically. From foreign markets, the film pulled in an additional $404.8 million and this was all on a $40 million budget. The second film opened below the first with $46.6 million and ended its run with $114.5 million in the States and $266.5 million from foreign territories. Universal was smart and filmed the second and third film simultaneously on a $55 million budget so the “climax” as they’re putting it is already profitable before its release. The first film did so well because it enticed casual moviegoers to see it who only heard about the scandalous nature of the books but never read them. The poor reviews kept them away from the second film and at this point, it’s all about the hardcore fans driving the franchise. It’s possible the third film will ultimately gross less than the second but it will enjoy a nice opening this weekend and solid midweek sales since Valentine’s Day falls next Wednesday, a day the first two films have dominated at the box office. The film has a rotten score of 13% on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing but this franchise is virtually critic-proof. The first film was 25% rotten while the sequel was 10% rotten and that didn’t stop the fans from coming out. I’m calling about $35-40 million for the weekend and then we can finally put this franchise to rest.
While the parents will be off enjoying adult fun with Fifty Shades, Peter Rabbit is also opening this weekend and it could make an impression with those who may be tired of seeing Jumanji, which has dominated the family audience since its release in December. James Corden is voicing Peter Rabbit in a contemporary comedy highlighted by his feud with Mr. Thomas McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson) as they rival for the affections of the warm-hearted animal lover who lives next door, played by Rose Byrne. Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki, and Daisy Ridley perform the voice roles of the triplets, Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail.
The film is budgeted at a modest $50 million and despite so-so reviews (63% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing), it could strike the right chord with kids and families. Also working in its favor is that next weekend is President’s Day weekend which typically gives films like this a nice bump. I’m calling $16-20 million for the weekend.
The last new release is Clint Eastwood’s 15:17 to Paris, based on the book “The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Heroes” by Jeffrey E. Stern, Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, and Alek Skarlatos, about the 2015 Thalys train attack. The film stars Stone, Sadler, and Skarlatos as themselves. Judy Greer and Jenna Fischer also star.
If anything this is an interesting experiment, using the real-life people involved in the event to star in the movie but there isn’t a lot of buzz around the film considering this is a Clint Eastwood film. Eastwood’s most recent film, Sully, was a solid performer with $240 million worldwide, and his American Sniper was a major success with $540 million worldwide. I think this one will mostly be determined by reviews, which haven’t hit as of this writing and it’s curious that this didn’t get more of an Oscar-friendly“,m release date since Eastwood is involved but we’ll have to wait and see the final result. I’m predicting about $12 million for the weekend and the rest will be determined how good the film actually is.