'Fifty Shades of Grey' audience: applause, laughter, groans (of pain)

'Fifty Shades of Grey' gets mixed responses from moviegoers at one Santa Monica theater

This Valentine's Day, 73-year-old Roselle Teplitsky had a plan: use her discount movie pass to see "Fifty Shades of Grey."

Teplitsky said she had a friend, about 75, for whom something about the book and movie excited her. "There's nothing much that excites this woman, so if she can get excited, I figure maybe there must be something there," Teplitsky said.

The Pacific Palisades resident hasn't read E.L. James' erotic novel, but she was curious about the film adaptation, which opened over the weekend.

"I grew up in the '60s when we had [books and movies] about real sex," Teplitsky said. "So I don't know what this is going to be."

The film, directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and released by Universal Pictures, follows kinky billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and his demure love interest Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson). 

Teplitsky was among about 50 people -- mostly couples and women of all ages -- standing in a line outside AMC on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica on Saturday night.

Fandango, the nation's largest movie ticket company, reported hundreds of sold-out showings for “Fifty Shades of Grey” beginning with 8 p.m. screenings on Feb. 12.

Though most people in line Saturday said they had purchased their tickets for the 7:15 p.m. show in advance, they came as early as 6 p.m. hoping for good seats.

"My roommate is obsessed with the books," said Paulina Eriksson, 24, while waiting for the theater to start letting people in.

"I have no expectations at all because I don't even know what it's about. It seems like a chick flick ... but there are a lot of guys in the line."

Meanwhile, moviegoers who were leaving an earlier screening of the film gave it mixed reviews. 

During a late Saturday afternoon showing, certain lines of dialogue meant to be serious led to explosive laughter from the audience. Likewise, the abrupt ending of the film triggered both groans and applause.

“To tell you the truth, I didn’t really understand it,” said William Overby, 30, who went to see the movie with his fiance. “She wanted to see it. I just tagged along.”

But Forrest Blake and Cherie Johnston, who also saw the film on their date night, thought highly of the adaptation.

“I thought it was interesting the audience reacted negatively at the end,” said Blake, who read the book. “I think they missed the point.”

Added Johnston: “It’s a psychological drama, really.”

An estimated 68% of "Fifty Shades" moviegoers were female, and 58% were older than 25. The film received a C-plus from audience polling firm CinemaScore, and critics gave it a meager 26% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Universal originally slated the film for last summer. The scheduling shift to Valentine's Day weekend paid off: "Fifty Shades" became the highest grossing Presidents Day and Valentine's Day weekend opener. It made an estimated $81.7 million in the U.S. and Canada through Sunday.

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

CORRECTION

3:05 p.m.: An earlier version of this post misspelled Cherrie Johnston as Sherrie Johnston.

The original post was published at 2:05 p.m.

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