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Weekend Forecast: FIFTY SHADES FREED Expected To Dominate Box Office Thanks To Valentine’s Day

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The movie news cycle and the box office are experiencing a drought, but Universal’s Fifty Shades Freed aims to quench that thirst with the release of their erotic drama. The trades were initially reporting a $33 million opening in 3,700 theaters at domestic multiplexes with premium screens like IMAX and RPX in select theaters, but these estimates may be too low because Thursday preview numbers are in. With a steamy 5.6M Thursday preview, Fifty Shades Freed is only 2% behind it’s previous installment, which opened to 47M. Fifty Shades Freed is still tracking in the 33M to 39M range for it’s domestic opening weekend, but with such a strong preview number, Fifty Shades Freed can flirt with a 42M opening.

Internationally, Fifty Shades Freed will open alongside the U.S. and Canada in most markets and on the same weekend. The Fifty Shades franchise is more overseas reliant with both Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker having overseas markets account for 70-71% of its worldwide gross. With a budget of 55M, Universal’s erotic drama would need around 200M to break even, which should be achievable.

Sony’s Peter Rabbit, a much tamer film, hopes to play well with families.  Peter Rabbit will play at 3,700 locations and the trades are predicting anywhere from $16M to $20M-ish for its domestic opening. With decent reception from critics (61% on Rotten Tomatoes), Peter Rabbit will aim to dangle a carrot in front of audiences long enough until Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time take attention away from Sony’s film.

Warner Bros’ Clint Eastwood thriller The 15:17 to Paris releases in 3,042 theaters and as of Thursday before release, sits at 20% on rotten tomatoes. If the critical consensus to this film is any indication of the general audience’s reception, word of mouth will serve as a deterrent. Estimates place this film at around $12 million but the opening could be even lower depending on how fast word of mouth spreads.

Sony’s breakout hit Jumanji should continue its solid streak with a modest drop of 30%. If Jumanji experiences this drop, The Rock’s breakout hit will inch even closer to surpassing Spider-Man 2’s 373M domestic gross to become Sony’s second highest grossing film behind Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man (403M Domestic Total). Worldwide, Jumanji should pass every comic book film of 2017 to become the 5th highest grossing film of 2017 worldwide and pass the 900M mark by the end of its run. The future looks bright for Sony’s Jumanji Franchise and with it’s sequel in development, crossing the billion-dollar mark is not out of the question for a future installment.

Another notable addition is Disney’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which continues to dwindle at the box office. Kathleen Kennedy’s third Star Wars product has grossed 615M domestically, but its premium screens are now being bound and given to Fifty Shades Freed. This weekend, The Last Jedi should experience a steeper drop due to the loss of many screens and theaters. Internationally, Star Wars is playing in less than 13 markets and its overseas numbers are beginning to dry up with only 3M from last weekend. Worldwide, The Last Jedi will stall out around 1.34B, but with a divided fanbase, the lukewarm reception to Kathleen Kennedy’s leadership and the messy productions that surrounded Rogue One, Solo and Episode IX, the future of the once beloved Star Wars franchise is unknown.

How do you think this week will play out at the box office? Shoot a comment my direction, I’m excited to hear your thoughts.

Source: Deadline/Box Office Mojo/Rotten Tomatoes

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