Though new release Fifty Shades Freed should win the box office this weekend, its debut is poised to be the lowest of the franchise. After the series of novels by E.L. James became a phenomenon, Universal looked to capitalize on the popularity with movie adaptations. The first of these, Fifty Shades of Grey, was released over Valentine's Day weekend in 2015, bringing in $85.1 million (at the time, a February record) over the course of its first three days. Grey ultimately ended its domestic run with $166.1 million. The sequel, Fifty Shades Darker fared worse, opening with $46.6 million last year en route to $114.5. Now, we've arrived at the final chapter.
This past January was a rather slow one at the multiplex, as evidenced by December release Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle winning Super Bowl weekend (matching a feat from Titanic in the process). February seems to be a different story with the impending arrival of Marvel's Black Panther, but first the Fifty Shades trilogy wraps up. And while the latest entry in a famous property sounds like a recipe for box office success, it looks like Freed could continue Hollywood's minor commercial slump at the outset of 2018.
Per Box Office Pro, Fifty Shades Freed is estimated to bring in $39 million in its opening weekend. That would be the worst start for a Fifty Shades film by far, illustrating interest in the brand is diminishing. The most likely culprit behind the franchise's continuing decline is the critical reception, as Freed was widely panned just like its predecessors. Unless one is a die-hard fan of the books and has a vested interest in the title, there's little incentive to check this one out in theaters. By all accounts, Freed offers more of the same and won't win over any new viewers.
What helps Freed's prospects is that it doesn't have much in the way of competition. This weekend's other wide releases, The 15:17 to Paris and Peter Rabbit, are no critical darlings themselves and are likewise projected for soft debuts. Clint Eastwood's latest drama is poised to earn $15 million, while the adaptation of Beatrix Potter's beloved creation should gross $19 million. And as indicated earlier, the holdovers from January don't post much of a threat, as many of them struggled out of the gate and never made an impact. Fifty Shades has a clear path to the top spot this weekend before it gets steamrolled by T'Challa.
But even if Freed makes less than the other installments in the series, it doesn't necessarily mean it's a box office flop. The (ahem) romantic drama was budgeted at $55 million, meaning it would have to bring in $110 million worldwide in order to break even. Grey's global total was $571 million and Darker grossed $381 million, so Freed should end its run by turning a minor profit. It's probably for the best Universal is ending the series here with diminishing ticket sales, but it was a worthwhile investment on their part.
Source: Box Office
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