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Fifty Shades Freed ties up top spot at UK box office

Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson in Fifty Shades Freed.
Performing well … Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson in Fifty Shades Freed. Photograph: Doane Gregory/Universal

The winner: Fifty Shades Freed

Universal is celebrating cracking $1bn worldwide with its Fifty Shades franchise. The third and final instalment in the erotic series, Fifty Shades Freed, grossed $135m worldwide at the weekend, down a slim 6% from the $144m global opening of predecessor Fifty Shades Darker.

In the UK, the decline was a little steeper than that, down 19% on the debut of Fifty Shades Darker a year ago. Fifty Shades Freed opened in the UK with £6.13m. The Fifty Shades films have always performed well on Valentine’s Day, so Universal will hope that the pattern repeats on Wednesday.

This franchise experienced a big drop in commercial fortunes between the first two episodes, with 33% of the global audience not returning after Fifty Shades of Grey. Universal may have had a concern that Freed would experience a similar big drop, but so far it seems that the audience that stuck with the story for the second film are returning to watch the conclusion. Fifty Shades performs particularly well in territories such as Germany and Italy – Darker was respectively the sixth- and seventh-biggest hit of 2017 in those countries. Conversely, the films have zero traction in China, Japan and Korea, where the books likewise made little headway. Fifty Shades Darker was the 20th-biggest hit of 2017 in the UK.

The runner-up: The Greatest Showman

Landing in a lowly 14th place is Clint Eastwood’s The 15:17 to Paris, which recounts the events on the titular train travelling from Amsterdam on 21 August 2015. The director made the bold decision to cast, as themselves, the three young American friends who wrestled the suspected terrorist to the floor, but audiences do not appear to have been very intrigued by that novel prospect – in the UK at least.

In the US, the film opened with a soft $12.6m. An equivalent result for the UK would be in the £1.25m ballpark, but the film began with a weak £291,000. It essentially tells the story of its three young heroes, two of whom were serving in the US military at the time, and it’s fair to say there is greater awareness and appreciation of the trio in their native country.

The foreign language contender: Loveless

Matvey Novikov in Loveless.
Matvey Novikov in Loveless. Photograph: AP

Delivering the biggest UK opening of Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev’s career, Loveless arrives with £74,000 from 39 cinemas, and £126,000 including previews. It’s the biggest opening for a foreign-language art-house title (ie excluding Bollywood and mainstream Polish fare) since Michael Haneke’s Happy End in early December last year. Zvyagintsev’s biggest hit at UK cinemas remains 2014’s Leviathan, with £290,000 lifetime total, and Loveless distributor Altitude will be confident of matching that number – especially if it wins the foreign language prize at the Baftas or the Oscars.

The milestones: Darkest Hour and Three Billboards

Frances McDormand and Peter Dinklage in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Frances McDormand and Peter Dinklage in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Photograph: Merrick Morton/Twentieth Century Fox

Two films reached box-office milestones at the weekend. Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour pushed past £20m, becoming the first 2018 release to cross the barrier. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri reached £10m. Director Martin McDonagh’s previous biggest hit was In Bruges, with £4.90m lifetime.

The market

Thanks to the arrival of Fifty Shades Freed, the UK market is 9% up on the previous frame. However, it’s also a troubling 32% down on the equivalent weekend from 2017, when The Lego Batman Movie and Fifty Shades Darker landed in the top two places of the chart. Salvation for cinemas is imminent, with the release today of Marvel’s Black Panther, swiftly followed on Valentine’s Day by Guillermo del Toro’s awards favourite The Shape of Water. Friday’s new releases include Owen Wilson comedy Father Figures and Greta Gerwig’s acclaimed coming-of-age drama Lady Bird, starring Saoirse Ronan.

Top 10 films, 9-11 February

1. Fifty Shades Freed, £6,132,414 from 592 sites (new)

2. The Greatest Showman, £1,925,895 from 538 sites. Total: £26,106,298 (seven weeks)

3. Coco, £1,213,572 from 634 sites. Total: £11,674,613 (four weeks)

4. Early Man, £1,130,466 from 646 sites. Total: £5,306,430 (three weeks)

5. Darkest Hour, £980,172 from 512 sites. Total: £20,655,548 (five weeks)

6. Maze Runner: The Death Cure, £747,586 from 477 sites. Total: £5,472,654 (three weeks)

7. Den of Thieves, £599,326 from 396 sites. Total: £2,248,544 (two weeks)

8. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, £592,089 from 338 sites. Total: £10,599,221 (five weeks)

9. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, £564,716 from 400 sites. Total: £36,117,315 (eight weeks)

10. The Post, £471,794 from 367 sites. Total: £8,355,969 (four weeks)

Other openers

Tad the Lost Explorer and the Secret of King Midas, £302,312 (including £98,471 previews) from 449 sites

The Mercy, £301,138 from 254 sites

The 15:17 to Paris, £290,577 from 323 sites

L’Elisir d’Amore – Met Opera, £214,105 from 206 sites

Status Update, £137,886 from 242 sites

Loveless, £126,253 (including £52,342 previews) from 39 sites

Pad Man, £116,978 from 51 sites

Kalakalappu 2, £11,027 from six sites

Kayhan, £3,761 from two sites

Aadhi, £2,666 from two sites

  • Thanks to comScore. All figures relate to takings in UK and Ireland cinemas.
This article titled "Fifty Shades Freed ties up top spot at UK box office" was written by Charles Gant, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 13 February 2018 03.05pm

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