Box Office

'50 Shades' still number one despite huge box office drop

Dakota Johnson, left, and Jamie Dornan appear in a scene from the film, 'Fifty Shades of Grey.'

Dakota Johnson, left, and Jamie Dornan appear in a scene from the film, 'Fifty Shades of Grey.'  (The Associated Press)

“Fifty Shades of Grey” didn’t show much endurance, with ticket sales for the erotic drama plunging in its second weekend of release.

The adaptation of EL James kinky best-seller about a billionaire and the college student he introduces into the world of BDSM, nabbed first place at the box office, but its $23.2 million in receipts represented a steep 73% fall from its record-breaking $85.1 million debut. Its hot-and-fast performance is akin to recent female-driven hits such as “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Sex and the City” and “Magic Mike,” all of which opened strong before tapering off rapidly in their sophomore weekends.

It also didn’t help that the word-of-mouth on the movie was of the cautionary variety. “Fifty Shades of Grey” earned an uninspired C+ CinemaScore from audiences amidst gripes that it deviated too far from the source material (If only they’d kept the tampon scene!). The film has made $130.1 million thus far, but could struggle to hit $200 million domestically given its precipitous drop-off.

Despite the limp second weekend, the Universal Pictures and Focus Features cost an economical $40 million to produce, so it still stands to be a very profitable endeavor even when the tens of millions of dollars that the studios spent marketing and distributing the film are taken into account.

Globally, the film fared better. “Fifty Shades of Grey” was the number one picture at the international box office for the second week in a row, pulling in an estimated $68.1 million at 10,794 dates in 58 territories. That represented a 56% fall from its debut, and pushes the worldwide haul to $410.6 million.

But back to stateside matters. Another holdover, Fox’s “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” secured second place on the U.S. charts with $17.5 million. The action adventure about a group of posh spies has earned $67.1 million after two weeks.

“The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” continued to take advantage of a lack of family-oriented programming in the marketplace, claiming third place with $15.5 million at the box office. The Paramount Pictures release has earned $125.2 million after three weeks in theaters.

That left a trio of new releases fighting over the scraps. It was particularly bad news for “Hot Tub Time Machine 2,” which received an icy reception when it debuted on 2,880 screens. The raunchy comedy earned an estimated $5.8 million, roughly half of the $13 million it was expected to generate. The good news for Paramount and Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer, the studios behind the movie, is that the time-traveling comedy only cost $14 million to make. That said, don’t hold your breath for a third installment.

Among the fresh faces at the multiplex, audiences seemed most taken with racing drama “McFarland, USA,” was able to take fourth place with a $11.3 million finish. The inspirational sports drama stars Kevin Costner as a high school coach who takes on a group of racers from a predominantly Latino high school. It cost $25 million to produce. The film had an opening weekend crowd that was split evenly between men and women, with ticket buyers over the age of 50 making up the largest percentage of seat-holders.

“The Duff.” The well-reviewed high-school romantic comedy picked up $11 million when it debuted on 2,575 screens. The CBS Films produced the film for $8.5 million and is releasing it through a distribution partnership with Lionsgate. The audience for the film was 75% female, 68% under the age of 25 and 48% under 18 years old.

Among Oscar contenders, “American Sniper” continued to be the big dog in the pack, adding $9.6 million to its $319.6 million  haul.

Click here to read more in Variety.