LOS ANGELES -- Following a lackluster Super Bowl weekend for theaters where films opening around Christmas dominated the box office, this past weekend's three new wide releases all debuted at the top of the chart, led by Universal Pictures' Fifty Shades Freed.
The final installment in the Fifty Shades trilogy debuted in first place to the tune of $38.5 million, according to ComScore.
Based on the third and final entry in the book series by British author E.L. James, Fifty Shades Freed earned negative reviews from critics and audiences with an 11 percent rotten rating from review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.
The two previous movies in the trilogy grossed a combined $950 million. The first, Fifty Shades of Grey, opened in 2015 with $85 million domestically before grossing $571 million globally. Last year's follow-up, Fifty Shades Darker, debuted to $47.6 million and eventually collected $381 million worldwide.
"It's very satisfying to see a trilogy designed primarily for an adult female audience be able to broaden out literally into a billion-dollar franchise," said Jim Orr, the studio's distribution chief. "We couldn't be more pleased with the debut."
In second place, Columbia's family film Peter Rabbit earned $25 million in its first weekend in theaters, well above analysts' predictions of $16 million.
A modern-day computer-animated/live-action take on the Beatrix Potter character, estimated to have cost $50 million, the film stars James Corden as the voice of a mischievous bunny at war with his neighbor. The movie also earned mixed reviews, receiving an A-minus on CinemaScore and a 58 percent rotten on Rotten Tomatoes.
In third place, Warner Bros.' The 15:17 to Paris earned $12.5 million in its first weekend, at the high end of the expected $10 million to $12 million range analysts projected.
The latest directorial effort by Clint Eastwood tells the real-life story of three Americans who thwarted a terrorist attack on a train in 2015 by subduing a gunman. In an unusual twist, the American men, Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos, play themselves in the film. It earned a B minus on CinemaScore and a 20 percent rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Coming in fourth, Columbia's Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, now in its eighth week, added $10 million in earnings, for about $366 million.
Rounding out the top five, Fox's The Greatest Showman, also in its eighth week, added $6.4 million for about $146.5 million.
After debuting last week in third place, Lionsgate's Winchester dropped to the seventh spot this past weekend, adding $5.2 million to its $17.3 million gross.
Overall the marketplace is still down about 1.8 percent for the year and about 27 percent from the same weekend last year which, comScore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian notes, saw the premiere of The Lego Batman Movie, Fifty Shades Darker and John Wick: Chapter 2, all of which opened over $30 million.
But the box office will pick up today with Black Panther, which some analysts are pegging for a $150 million start.
"This is the calm before the Marvel storm," Dergarabedian said. "Black Panther is going to supercharge this marketplace when it opens ... . I think it's going to break records and spark a huge conversation."
Lionsgate debuts the animated Early Man and Pure Flix premieres Samson, a remake of the 1949 camp classic Samson and Delilah.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Sunday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Monday by comScore:
Fifty Shades Freed, Universal, $38,560,195, 3,768 locations, $10,234 average, $38,560,195, 1 week.
Peter Rabbit, Columbia, $25,010,928, 3,725 locations, $6,714 average, $25,010,928, 1 week.
The 15:17 to Paris, Warner Bros., $12,554,286, 3,042 locations, $4,127 average, $12,554,286, 1 week.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Columbia, $10,023,344, 3,136 locations, $3,196 average, $365,855,215, 8 weeks.
The Greatest Showman, 20th Century Fox, $6,443,343, 2,373 locations, $2,715 average, $146,579,213, 8 weeks.
Maze Runner: The Death Cure, 20th Century Fox, $6,222,303, 2,923 locations, $2,129 average, $49,240,432, 3 weeks.
Winchester, Lionsgate, $5,211,217, 2,480 locations, $2,101 average, $17,338,575, 2 weeks.
The Post, 20th Century Fox, $3,631,998, 1,865 locations, $1,947 average, $72,968,518, 8 weeks.
The Shape of Water, Fox Searchlight, $3,177,255, 1,780 locations, $1,785 average, $49,942,946, 11 weeks.
Den of Thieves, STX Entertainment, $2,999,379, 1,468 locations, $2,043 average, $41,070,702, 4 weeks.
Hostiles, Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures, $2,824,754, 2,214 locations, $1,276 average, $26,022,222, 8 weeks.
12 Strong, Warner Bros., $2,743,248, 1,901 locations, $1,443 average, $42,013,427, 4 weeks.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Fox Searchlight, $2,302,015, 1,273 locations, $1,808 average, $45,446,821, 14 weeks.
I, Tonya, Neon Rated, $1,671,331, 1,088 locations, $1,536 average, $25,348,359, 10 weeks.
Darkest Hour, Focus Features, $1,604,995, 1,045 locations, $1,536 average, $51,485,087, 12 weeks.
Star Wars: Episode VIII -- The Last Jedi, Disney, $1,397,413, 830 locations, $1,684 average, $616,833,692, 9 weeks.
Paddington 2, Warner Bros., $1,301,101, 1,429 locations, $910 average, $38,533,465, 5 weeks.
Forever My Girl, Roadside Attractions, $1,240,327, 1,088 locations, $1,140 average, $14,579,646, 4 weeks.
Phantom Thread, Focus Features, $1,205,825, 558 locations, $2,161 average, $16,403,919, 7 weeks.
MET Opera: L'Elisir D'Amore (2018), Fathom Events, $1,170,000, 900 locations, $1,300 average, $1,170,000, 1 week.
MovieStyle on 02/16/2018
Print Headline: Fifty Shades dominates weekend