The movie version of “Fifty Shades of Grey” shattered a few records during its opening weekend. Millions of women felt the need to read E.L. James’s erotic drama about a virginal co-ed and her billionaire BDSM-loving boyfriend and they showed up for the movie, too — and even brought a few men with them.
Over the course of its first four days in theaters, the movie raked in $94.4 million in the U.S., plus $172 million more internationally, and, according to Box Office Mojo, about 32 percent of movie-goers were men.
“Fifty Shades of Grey” now holds the record for biggest President’s Day debut. And apparently movie-goers weren’t willing to take any chances that they might miss out on a ticket — either that or they were embarrassed to face box office cashiers. According to Fandango, 29 percent of the domestic tickets sold were purchased through the company, and that’s the biggest percentage for any movie in the company’s 15 years in business. It turns out whips and “play rooms” are better marketing than paper bag puppets.
In terms of February openings, the movie trailed only one other movie, a slightly different drama: “The Passion of the Christ.”
The “Fifty Shades” box office numbers are more in line with summer superhero-themed action movies than an R-rated romance. (“Guardians of the Galaxy” brought in $94.3 domestically during its opening weekend and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” brought in $95 million.) And while the attendance will almost certainly drop off after the first weekend, “Fifty Shades” has one asset those blockbusters don’t. Given that it isn’t a superhero flick, which would entail loads of expensive special effects, the movie directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, cost just $40 million to make. “Guardians” cost $170 million.
So what does this mean? Will we soon live in a world where the only movies to watch in theaters will feature superheroes or S&M? Well, superheroes are a given, but it’s hard to say on the latter. Universal hasn’t even officially announced that it will produce the two other movies in the “Fifty Shades” trilogy (which, for a company that has approximately a zillion sequels coming out, is ridiculous. Of course it will).
As if desperate to figure out the money-making formula that got people to come to the theater, Universal conducted exit polling. Apparently, the story was the biggest motivating factor when it came to buying tickets. But then who wants to admit they went to a movie just to see Dakota Johnson get spanked? Thanks a lot exit pollers. Now we’re going to end up with a bunch of superhero movies featuring weird romantic subplots.