It seems the passionate relationship “Fifty Shades of Grey” built with moviegoers has dimmed with time, if the Thursday preview numbers of its sequel, “Fifty Shades Darker,” are any indication. The Universal adaptation of E.L. James’ novel grossed $5.7 million at the Thursday box office at 3,120 locations, which is a big drop from the whopping $8.6 million “Fifty Shades of Grey” scored from just 2,830 locations in previews in 2015.
Universal is projecting a $40 million opening weekend for “Darker,” while trackers have it going for as much as $57 million. Either way, it’s quite a step down from the $85 million that “Grey” made in its opening weekend en route to a $166 million total domestic yield and $571 million worldwide. The film, which stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan and is directed by James Foley (“Glengarry Glen Ross”), got panned even harder by the critics than “Grey” did, currently holding a 9 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. However, trackers tell TheWrap that the calendar may be in part to blame for “Darker”‘s lower numbers. “Grey” had the fortune of being released in a year when Valentine’s Day fell on a weekend. This year, Valentine’s Day is on a Tuesday, meaning “Darker” won’t get as big a bump from couples looking for a kinky escape to celebrate the holiday.
Meanwhile, Warner Bros. is expecting a big weekend from “The Lego Batman Movie,” the spinoff of the 2014 smash stop-motion hit “The Lego Movie.” It made $2.2 million on Thursday night at approximately 3,500 locations, and the studio is expecting a $60 million weekend once families have a chance to take their kids to see it on Friday and Saturday. Trackers are expecting “Lego Batman” to make between $64-70 million, which would put it on the same level as the $69 million opening weekend “The Lego Movie” tallied.
But the Thursday numbers could signal something even bigger for “Lego Batman.” “The Lego Movie” made just $400,000 in previews, while “Zootopia,” which went on to gross more than a billion worldwide, grossed $1.7 million on its first Thursday. The name recognition of both Lego and The Dark Knight could give this spinoff an extra boost. “Lego Batman” is also being embraced by critics just as much as its predecessor, racking up a 91 percent “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Written and directed by Chris McKay, “Lego Batman” stars Will Arnett, who stole the show in “The Lego Movie” with his satirical rendition of DC’s famous super hero. The film also stars Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson and Ralph Fiennes. Its budget was $80 million, compared to the $60 million budget for “The Lego Movie,” which earned $257.8 million domestically.
Also entering the fray this weekend is “John Wick: Chapter 2,” the sequel to Keanu Reeves’ critically acclaimed action film. Like “Lego Batman,” it made $2.2 million in previews from 3,131 locations, beating the $870,000 scored by its predecessor. Directed by Chad Stahelski and written by Derek Kolstad, the film has been hailed by critics with a 90 percent RT rating. The film also stars John Leguizamo, Common, Ian McShane and Lance Reddick.
Still, it is expected to finish third this weekend, with trackers projecting an opening weekend of around $20 million. Still, that would be an uptick from the $14 million opening weekend the original “John Wick” had. That film went on to make $86 million domestically against a $20 million budget.