50 Shades of Grey
Still of Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan in “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Photo credit: Chuck Zlotnick/Universal Pictures
Still of Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan in “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Photo credit: Chuck Zlotnick/Universal Pictures

“Fifty Shades Of Grey” is on track to see 81 million shades of green this weekend, as it shot into first place at the nation’s box offices.

The R-rated romp exceeded even the industry experts’ expectations for satisfying the public’s needs on a Valentine’s Day weekend, movie analysts said. Its opening gross was expected to total $81.2 million in the U.S. and Canada.

“An incredible President’s weekend and yet another 2015 to far exceed expectations,” gushed Rentrak‘s Paul Dergarabedian as his firm released the totals. He predicted “50 Shades” will bring in more than $90 million by the end of the holiday weekend, Monday night.

The movie is doing well, even in religious and conservative states. But it landed with a thud in some unexpected quarters.

The film portrays sadomasochism as a mental illness, when it is in fact “a sexual orientation,” a longtime dominatrix and fetish film star told City News Service.

“It’s not a character defect, it’s not a mental illness,” Tara Indiana told CNS before a protest at the film’s opening. “It’s a sexual orientation.”

An R-rated action movie, “Kingsman: The Secret” opened with a $35.6 million estimated take over three days, and $41 million through Monday.

And at the squishier end of the demographics, “Spongebob Squarepants: Sponge Out Of Water” soaked up another $30.5 million over three days, and an estimated $37.6 million for the extended weekend. That’s good enough to take it over the $100 million mark.

And “American Sniper” added another $16.4 million — $20 million through Monday — to its four week total. By the end of the night Monday, it will be at the $304.1 million mark in the U.S. and Canada alone.

Rounding out the 10 most-popular films in North America, as estimated by the studios and collated by Rentrak, were “Jupiter Ascending” ($9.4 million), “Seventh Son” ($4.2 million), “Paddington” ($4.1 million), “The Imitation Game” ($3.6 million), “The Wedding Ringer” ($3.4 million) and “Project Almanac” ($2.7 million).

— City News Service

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