Box office: 'Fifty Shades Darker' triumphs on Friday; 'The Lego Batman Movie' set to win weekend

Three much anticipated and very different sequels landed in theaters this weekend, with “The Lego Batman Movie,” “Fifty Shades Darker” and “John Wick: Chapter 2” in a three-way race for audience attention.

Though the family-friendly “Lego Batman” is still on track to win the weekend, on Friday it was the politely kinky, adult-oriented “Fifty Shades” that was the box office turn-on. The second film in the “Fifty Shades” series based on the hugely successful erotic novels of E.L. James took in $21.5 million from more than 3,700 theaters.

The movie, which again paired leads Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, was directed by James Foley, who replaced “Fifty Shades of Grey” director Sam Taylor-Johnson. James’ husband, Niall Leonard, penned the screenplay. .

Meanwhile, the animated “The Lego Batman Movie” brought in $15 million in just over 4,000 theaters. the film, directed by Chris McKay. features the voice work of Will Arnett as Batman and Zach Galifianakis as the Joker.

In February 2014, “The Lego Movie,” which was directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, opened to just above $69 million. In February 2015 “Fifty Shades of Grey” opened to $85 million. Based on Friday’s numbers, it looks like “The Lego Batman Movie” should open to about $55 million for the weekend, while “Fifty Shades Darker” will wind up at an estimated weekend gross of more than $47 million.

The action sequel “John Wick: Chapter 2,” starring Keanu Reeves, grossed an estimated $11 million on Friday, putting it on course to bring in $29 million for the weekend. The first “John Wick,” which introduced Wick as a hit man out for revenge, opened to almost $14.5 million in October of 2014.

All three films seem to be satisfying audience expectations, according to Cinemascore polling results. “The Lego Batman Movie” has an A-minus, “Fifty Shades Darker” has a B-plus and “John Wick: Chapter 2” has an A-minus.

Critics had a slightly different response. While “Lego Batman” and “Wick” both scored 91% on the Rotten Tomatoes critic site, “Fifty Shades Darker” only registered an icy 10% rating. 

Rounding out Friday’s top five are “Split,” with an estimated $9 million, which ends its three-week streak at the top of the box office chart, and awards contender “Hidden Figures,” with an estimated $8 million.

Oscar favorite “La La Land” brought in $1.3 million on Friday, putting it on course to finish the weekend with a domestic box office of $125.8 million.

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Mark.Olsen@latimes.com

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