Three new and very different sequels (more spinoff than sequel, in one particular case) are debuting in theaters in a wide release in the U.S. this weekend. Warner Bros. Pictures is premiering its spinoff/followup to its highly-successful animated 2014 feature The LEGO Movie, The LEGO Batman Movie. Meanwhile, Lionsgate/Summit is unveiling John Wick: Chapter Two, the followup to the studio’s own cult hit 2014 Keanu Reeves action movie, and Universal Pictures has Fifty Shades Darker: the next installment in the best-selling erotic novel series-turned blockbuster Fifty Shades franchise.
Box office predictions ahead of this weekend had pegged LEGO Batman Movie as the likely winner for the frame, with the Fifty Shades followup landing (not too far behind) in second place. While that is still the expected outcome for this weekend, the continuing popularity of the Fifty Shades property proved to be enough to land the sequel a victory at the Friday box office over LEGO Batman‘s solo vehicle.
Variety is reporting that Fifty Shades Darker topped the Friday U.S. box office with a take of $21.5 million, versus $15 million for The LEGO Batman Movie. However, LEGO Batman Movie should see a much higher uptick in its Saturday vs. Friday box office gross, thanks to matinee screenings of the family-friendly superhero action/comedy on Saturday. Moreover, LEGO Batman Movie is being enthusiastically received by critics and the general moviegoing public alike, whereas Fifty Shades Darker is only appealing to hardcore Fifty Shades fans and should prove to be front-loaded at the box office. Current predictions have LEGO Batman Movie taking in $54 million for the weekend, versus $46 million total for Fifty Shades Darker.
Whereas Fifty Shades Darker is looking at a hefty drop-off in its opening weekend versus that for Fifty Shades of Grey (which opened with $85.2 million stateside, two years ago), John Wick: Chapter Two is poised to significantly improve on the opening take for its predecessor. The John Wick sequel opened with $10.9 million on Friday and is on course to accumulate $28 million by the end of the weekend, nearly doubling the $14.4 million that John Wick opened with back in the fall of 2014. In terms of critical reception, John Wick: Chapter Two has been even more warmly-received than the first John Wick (itself, a hit with critics). In other words: the odds of John Wick 3 getting the green light are looking good right now.
Rounding out the top five at the U.S. box office on Friday were M. Night Shymalan’s surprise early year hit Split and the Oscar-nominated historical drama Hidden Figures with $2.7 and $2.2 million, per BOM. Shyamalan’s drama/thriller continues to play well with audiences and suggests that his decision to get the ball rolling on a Split sequel ahead of time, will not be in vain. Meanwhile, Hidden Figures remains the top grossing movie amongst this year’s Best Picture Oscar nominees, having edged out the musical La La Land (which is still the favorite to be dubbed Best Picture by the Academy this month) in the U.S. box office derby.
Check back on Screen Rant this Sunday for the full weekend box office estimates!