Universal’s raunchy drama blows off opposition on way to $20.7m debut (£13.5m).
Fifty Shades of Grey spanked rivals at the UK box office over the Valentine’s Day weekend, amassing a colossal $20.7m debut (£13.5m).
The hotly anticipated book adaptation scored a whopping $35,400 (£23,000) screen average from around 580 sites, accounting for 58% of the total market-share.
The film’s weekend total is the biggest ever for an 18-certificate (Hannibal previously debuted on $9.8m/£6.4m), the largest for a non-franchise/sequel opening, the biggest February and Valentine’s Day debut and the biggest debut of 2015.
The film was also the biggest-ever opening for distributor Universal, beating out the company’s previous record held by Despicable Me 2.
Ticket pre-sales were through-the-roof for the buzzed-about drama, in which Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan star as student Anastasia Steele and the handsome but tormented billionaire Christian Grey, respectively.
Vue ticket sales surpassed the $1.5m (£1m) mark 10 days prior to the film’s release and sold at the highest-ever rate for the company.
According to the exhibitor, 80% of tickets were bought by women with an average of three tickets being bought per sale.
More than 300,000 people visited 83 Vue sites alone on Saturday, making it the chain’s biggest-ever Saturday attendance.
The film now looks set to surpass the UK’s highest-grossing 18-rated film of all time, The Wolf Of Wall Street, which took $35m (£22.7m); and David Fincher’s Gone Girl, another hit novel-turned-certificate-18, which has taken $34.5m (£22.4m) (and is still slowly ticking away).
Meanwhile Universal’s Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything was buoyed by its BAFTA wins in its seventh week, taking a further $768,000 (£499,000) for an excellent cumulative of $29m (£18.9m).
Animation Big Hero 6 ranked second at the UK box office, totalling $2.8m (£1.8m) from 575 locations in its third week for a running total of $15m (£9.8m).
StudioCanal’s family animation Shaun the Sheep Movie took a further $2.5m (£1.6m) in its second week from 554 sites (at an average of $4,600/£3,000), leading to a cumulative box office of $6.6m (£4.3m).
Also still in the top ten for StudioCanal is hit animation Paddington, which grossed a further $303,000 (£197,000) from 343 sites for a huge running total of $55.4m (£36m).
Kingsman: The Secret Service took $2.3m (£1.5m) in its third week from 514 locations for a running total of $16.6m (£10.8m).
The studio’s civil rights drama Selma scored a further $640,000 (£416,000) in its second week from 344 sites for a total of $2.6m (£1.7m).
Warner Bros accounted for two top ten titles over the weekend in the shape of holdover Jupiter Ascending, which took $1.22m (£796,516) from 429 locations for a relatively meagre $4.3m (£2.8m), and Clint Eastwood’s Iraq war drama American Sniper, which made $957,000 (£622,000) from 401 locations in its fifth week for an impressive $18.8m (£12.2m) total box office.
Few were willing to take on Fifty Shades this weekend but fellow-openers did include the film version of eOne’s own mega franchise Peppa Pig: The Golden Boots, which arrived sixth in the UK, taking $1m (£660,000) from 370 screens.
The family animation, which only runs 55 minutes, is something of an experiment for the distributor, which charged a lower ticket price and played almost entirely in the mornings.
Well-reviewed drama Love is Strange also entered the fray over the Valentine’s weekend, taking $97,000 (£63,000) from 42 sites.
Metrodome’s Coherence took $3,000 (£2,000) from two sites.
This week’s releases
This week’s releases include Paramount’s Project Almanac, which gets a saturation release from today; Universal’s Michael Mann thriller Blackhat; Sony comedy The Wedding Ringer; Warner Bros.’ Jennifer Aniston drama Cake; Artificial Eye’s The Duke of Burgundy; Soda’s Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter; and Dogwoof documentary Maidan.