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Box Office: 'Fifty Shades Freed' Pushes The Trilogy Past $1 Billion Worldwide

Box Office: 'Fifty Shades Freed' Pushes The Trilogy Past $1 Billion Worldwide

Box Office: 'Fifty Shades Freed' Pushes The Trilogy Past $1 Billion Worldwide

Universal/Comcast Corp.’s Fifty Shades Freed earned $18.5 million on its first Friday of domestic release, including $5.6m in Thursday previews. That’s down an understandable 14% from Fifty Shades Darker ($21.4m last February) and -38% from the boffo $30m opening day of Fifty Shades of Grey back in Feb. of 2015. One slight cause for concern is that Fifty Shades of Grey earned 28% of its Friday business on Thursday and Fifty Shades Darker earned 26% on its Friday business on Thursday, while Fifty Shades Freed earned 30% via Thursday previews.

Uh oh, if this third offering crashes due to frontloading, there might not be a sequel! In all seriousness, this is a $55 million trilogy capper to a series that had already earned $952m worldwide ($571m for the first film and $381m for the second) on a combined budget of $95m. So, no matter how far above the $1 billion mark this series gets, Fifty Shades Freed is a noble end to a shoulda-been-groundbreaking franchise which cost $150m for three movies and essentially paid for itself on the first go-around.

For comparison, Maze Runner: The Death Cure dropped 24% on its first Friday compared to The Scorch Trials and 25% from the first Maze Runner. The doomed Divergent series went from a $22.78 million Friday in March of 2014 to a $21.1m Friday in March of 2015 to a $11.9m Friday (-43% from Insurgent and 47% down from Divergent). Yes, you’re correct that the third Dakota Johnson/Jamie Dornan erotic drama dropped about as much from the first one as did the third Divergent from the first, but the first Divergent didn’t make $571m worldwide on a $40m budget.

The $150 million-budgeted Fifty Shades trilogy, based on E.L. James’ best-selling BSDM-themed romantic drama/thriller series, has topped $1 billion at the global box office. That puts it in rare company among R-rated franchises, alongside The Matrix ($1.6b over three films), The Hangover ($1.4b over three films), Alien ($1.328b not counting the PG-13 Alien vs. Predator), Resident Evil ($1.2b over six movies), The Conjuring ($1.2b over four movies), Die Hard ($1.05b not counting Live Free or Die Hard) and The Terminator ($1b just counting the first three R-rated offerings).

That’s not counting inflation (Lethal Weapon earned $955 million over four movies from 1987 to 1998), but I’m still impressed.  We’re looking at an over/under $40m domestic opening, with around $130m worldwide by tomorrow. That will make it the fourth-biggest global grosser of the year behind Insidious: The Last Key, Maze Runner: The Death Cure and Paddington 2. Walt Disney's Black Panther will make this all mere trivia in a week, but that’s a conversation for later. The Fifty Shades series is holding well considering this is a totally fan-driven series, with no Deathly Hallows part 2-ish finale bump.

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