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'Fifty Shades of Grey' whips up $8.6 million Thursday night

'Fifty Shades of Grey' whips up $8.6 million Thursday night
Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson in "Fifty Shades of Grey." (Universal Pictures)

"Fifty Shades of Grey" is looking like a hot box-office item ahead of Valentine's Day.

The adaptation of the popular E.L. James romance novel scored a sizzling $8.6 million from late-night showings on Thursday in 2,830 locations that started at 8 p.m.

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The Universal Pictures-Focus Features release, which cost $40 million to make, can now claim the second-highest late-night gross ever for an R-rated film, behind Warner Bros.' "The Hangover Part II" (2011), which nabbed $10.4 million. 

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It also topped "Fast & Furious 6" to become Universal's top late-night show ever. 

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"Fifty Shades," opening wide this weekend, is expected to generate at least $60 million in ticket sales during its first four days in U.S. theaters, including Presidents Day, according to pre-release audience surveys.

It should come in ahead 20th Century Fox's "Kingsman: The Secret Service," which is expected to pull in $30 million to $35 million through Presidents Day.

"Kingsman" assembled a solid $1.4 million from Thursday previews at 2,569 locations.

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Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage: @rfaughnder

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