‘Fifty Shades Darker’ Locks in $21.5 Million at Friday Box Office

“The Lego Batman Movie” took home $15 million

Universal’s “Fifty Shades Darker” attracted plenty of Friday night moviegoers, as the sexy drama reeled in $21.5 million at 3,710 locations.

The studio is projecting an opening weekend of $39 – $44 million for the “Fifty Shades of Grey” sequel, which would be a significant drop from the original.That one, which also starred Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, opened to $85 million on Valentine’s Day weekend two years ago. “Fifty Shades of Grey” went on to reel in $571 million worldwide.

“Fifty Shades Darker” also topped the Thursday charts with $5.7 million despite an abysmal 10 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but it’s not expected to win the weekend, as “The Lego Batman Movie” should draw plenty of Saturday and Sunday daytime moviegoers.

“Darker,”  based on the erotic novel series by E.L. James, is directed by James Foley.

“The Lego Batman Movie” placed second at the Saturday box office, clicking its way to $15 million at 4,088 locations. Chris McKay wrote and directed the Warner Bros. film, which stars Will Arnett as the title character, reprising his role from “The Lego Movie.”

The film carries an estimated $80 million production budget. Critics seem to love the animated movie based on the iconic toys, giving it a 91 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

“Lego Batman” began its run with a modest $2.2 million at the Thursday night box office and couldn’t pass “Fifty Shades Darker” on Friday, but its family target audience should turn out for earlier showtimes later in the weekend. The first “Lego Movie” made just $400,000 in Thursday night preview shows, which didn’t stop it from a $69 million opening weekend.

Warner Bros. had projected a $60 million opening weekend for “Lego Batman,” but others have forecast as much as $70 million. Lego Batman will play on 376 bigger — and pricier — IMAX screens, which should help boost its box office gross.

Lionsgate/Summit’s “John Wick: Chapter 2” shot its way to third place Friday, with $11 million at 3,113 theaters. Keanu Reeves stars as the eponymous hitman in the sequel to the 2014 original, which made $43 million domestically and another $43 million abroad. With a stellar 91 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating and a strong start, the sequel is on track to top the original.

The studio had initially projected an opening weekend in the mid-teens, but raised that bar as the film has been building momentum, with others estimating up to $31 million. That would more than double the performance of the first “John Wick,” which debuted to $14.4 million.

“John Wick: Chapter 2” was directed by Chad Stahelski from a script by Derek Kolstad. John Leguizamo, Common, Ian McShane and Lance Reddick also feature in the film.

Three-time defending box office champion “Split” dipped to fourth place Friday, taking home $2.7 million from 2,961 locations.

James McAvoy stars as a man with 23 different personalities in M. Night Shyamalan’s thriller, which has become the first surprise hit of 2017. The film has reeled in $103 million at the domestic box office on an estimated $9 million budget.