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This weekend sees the release of the climactic final chapter in the Fifty Shades trilogy, Fifty Shades Freed. The film is poised to dominate this February weekend before Valentine's Day, and many fans have already come out early to see how well literature can be adapted to the big screen. These fans helped Fifty Shades Freed have a strong showing with its Thursday night previews, bringing in $5.6 million from 3,150 North American locations.
The $5.6 million from Thursday night preview screening nearly matches last year's Fifty Shades Darker's $5.7 million, but it doesn't reach the pinnacle of the first film, which took in $8.6 million on over 300 fewer screens. According to Variety, Fifty Shades Freed will be expanding its theater count to over 3,768 locations over the weekend, and the movie is on track for a $33 million domestic haul. This should be more than enough for Fifty Shades Freed to win the weekend and take that #1 spot its predecessor couldn't quite hit.
The box office should see a nice rebound this weekend now that the Super Bowl is over, with the previous two years jumping 90% and 150% respectively in the wake of the big game. While Fifty Shades Darker faced the tough competition of John Wick: Chapter Two and The Lego Batman Movie (which took #1), Fifty Shades Freed doesn't have quite such stiff competition. Launching this weekend opposite the trilogy capper to the erotic series in a valiant attempt at counter programming are Peter Rabbit and The 15:17 to Paris. Peter Rabbit, based on the character created by Beatrix Potter, is set to debut at $16 million, while Clint Eastwood's latest should bring in about $12 million. Of course, if none of those three are to your liking, you can probably still catch Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle in theaters, where I assume it will remain forever.
A $33 million opening weekend is way off the $46.6 million taken in last year by Fifty Shades Darker and nowhere near the $85.2 million Fifty Shades of Grey collected during its opening weekend. The franchise clearly has declining audience interest, but it is still very successful and makes great use of a modest budget and a February release date. Fifty Shades Freed should easily push the trilogy over the $1 billion worldwide mark, putting it in elite company and proving the potential box office success similar fare might enjoy. Fifty Shades knows its audience, and the final chapter sounds like it delivers all the sex in all the places with all the expensive surroundings that fans have come to expect from this franchise.
This is probably the last Fifty Shades movie, at least for now, and at least with this cast, so enjoy it while it lasts; in a safe, sanitary and considerate way of course. Fifty Shades Freed is in theaters now. Don't miss the climax and be sure to come back and tell us what you thought of the movie.