COMPANY TOWN

'Fifty Shades of Grey' tops four-day weekend with $94.4 million

'Fifty Shades of Grey' becomes biggest February debut, outpacing the '04 launch of 'The Passion of the Christ'

It's fifty shades of success for Universal Pictures.

"Fifty Shades of Grey," released by Universal over the weekend, pulled in an estimated $94.4 million through the Monday holiday.

With a three-day haul of $85 million, the film became the biggest domestic February debut ever, outpacing the previous $83.9-million record set by "The Passion of the Christ" in 2004.

It is also now the third biggest R-rated weekend debut, coming behind the $85.9-million debut of "The Hangover 2" in 2011.

The Sam Taylor-Johnson-directed film, based on E.L. James' erotic novel , follows kinky billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and his demure love interest Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson). 

Universal originally slated the film for last summer but changed the release to Valentine's Day weekend. The scheduling shift paid off: "Fifty Shades" became the highest-grossing Presidents Day and Valentine's Day weekend opener. The previous record-holder, “Valentine’s Day," launched with $56.3 million in February 2010.

Overseas, the film has also been a huge hit. In the 58 markets outside North America where it was released, "Fifty Shades" made a whopping $172 million, bringing its worldwide total through Monday to $266.4 million.

The film received a C-plus from audience polling firm CinemaScore, and critics gave it a meager 26% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Coming in at second, “Kingsman: The Secret Service” made a solid $42 million over the four-day holiday weekend.

Based on a comic book, the film follows a street kid (Taron Egerton) after he is recruited into a secret spy organization by Harry Hart (Colin Firth). Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Caine also star in the film.

Audiences responded well to the film, giving it an average grade of B-plus from CinemaScore. Critics also gave it generally positive reviews.

"Spongebob Squarepants: Sponge Out of Water," which came in third, crossed the $100-million mark after 10 days in release. The family film has now made $103.1 million in the U.S. and Canada.

"American Sniper" added $19.5 million through Monday, making its total domestic haul a whopping $307 million. The Clint Eastwood-directed war drama, which launched in limited release on Christmas, is now the third-highest-grossing film of 2014.

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