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Love it or hate it, the Fifty Shades franchise is big business. The books were a phenomenon and the first two film adaptations have combined to gross almost a billion dollars worldwide. Despite declining enthusiasm and box office returns, the final film in the franchise (for now), Fifty Shades Freed, is set to dominate its domestic opening weekend and deliver solid box office returns heading into Valentine's Day.
Early tracking is predicting that Fifty Shades Freed should win its opening weekend with a performance of about $37 million, according to Variety. The franchise has been a serious threat on Valentine's Day weekend in both 2015 and 2017, with Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker debuting to $85.2 million and $46.6 million respectively. While Fifty Shades Freed probably won't even match its predecessor, it should still whip its competitors to win its opening weekend.
Tracking shows 74% total awareness of the film and 26% definite interest, and I imagine that interest in the film will only increase as we get closer to Valentine's day and everyone squares away their holiday plans. Perhaps when all is said and done Fifty Shades Freed will have pushed the franchise over that magical $1 billion mark, and proved just how much sex sells in mainstream movies.
The weekend that Fifty Shades Freed opens is actually quite an interesting one. And similar to last year, there is some interesting counter-programming going on. Last year Fifty Shades Darker faced off with The LEGO Batman and John Wick: Chapter Two. So couples had some poetic violence and heartfelt humor if whips and chains weren't their speed. But this year offers far different options.
Debuting opposite Fifty Shades Freed is Sony's Peter Rabbit and Clint Eastwood's The 15:17 to Paris. Early tracking puts Peter Rabbit at around $18 million for its opening weekend, and The 15:17 to Paris at $10 million.
I feel like there will be even less overlap in interests between these films than last year. Peter Rabbit looks like it might only appeal to little kids whereas all ages could enjoy LEGO Batman. The patriotic true story, starring the real life heroes, The 15:17 to Paris has the potential to pull in an older crowd, but definitely doesn't strike me as a date movie.
The climactic final chapter in the Fifty Shades series promises more thrills and action this time around, with guns, car chases and fistfights. But make no mistake, this franchise knows exactly what its fans want and I'm sure they'll leave you satisfied. Fifty Shades Freed stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan and is directed by James Foley. Fifty Shades Freed slips its way into theaters on February 9th. For all of the biggest movies hitting this year, with varying degrees of nudity, check out our release schedule.