AceShowbiz - Universal's "Fifty Shades Freed" dominates newcomers at the North American box office this weekend. The third and final installment of the erotic, romantic drama film series based on the novel of the same name by E.L. James debuts at No. 1 and earns an estimated $38.8 million, down significantly from the first film's $85.2 million debut and slightly from the sequel's $46.6 million opening.
However, the number is enough to push the franchise to more than $1 billion globally. "Fifty Shades of Grey", which came out in 2015, broke numerous box office records and earned over $571 million worldwide, while "Fifty Shades Darker", which was released last year, grossed $381 million worldwide.
"We are exhilarated with the results," Jim Orr, Universal's president of domestic distribution, said. "To have a trilogy engineered primarily for a female audience that we were then able to broaden out into a billion-dollar franchise is just a fantastic result." The studio expects a healthy mid-week bump on Valentine's Day and to serve as counter-programming against Marvel's "Black Panther" next weekend.
Other newcomers this weekend are Sony's "Peter Rabbit" and Clint Eastwood's "The 15:17 to Paris". The family comedy, which stars Rose Byrne and Domhnall Gleeson and features the voice of James Corden as the titular talking animal, lands in the second place with a strong $25 million.
Meanwhile, Eastwood's dramatic thriller places third with approximately $12.6 million. The movie, which is based on "The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Soldiers" by Jeffrey E. Stern, Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos, wasn't well-received by critics or audiences, who gave the film a B-minus on CinemaScore.
Rounding out the top five this weekend are "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" and "The Greatest Showman". The Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson-starring adventure movie drops to the fourth place with an additional $9.8 million in its eighth week, while Hugh Jackman's musical flick is estimated to collect $6.4 million.
Top Ten Movies at Weekend Box Office for February 9-11: