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Fifty Shades Freed

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Universal Pictures’ climactic third installment of the Fifty Shades franchise has thrust past the $300M worldwide mark. Through Friday, Fifty Shades Freed has liberated $306.7M global and $217.4M at the international box office. This comes after the James Foley-directed movie opened to $135.3M global in the frame beginning February 7.That bow helped the trilogy get over $1B worldwide, with the total now upwards of $1.25B. As we’ve noted, that’s a sexy feat given the roughly $150M combined production cost — and that the erotic flicks never see the inside of movie theaters in some key markets due to the content.

Fifty Shades Of Grey finaled at $571M WW/$404.8M overseas. This one’s not getting close to that, but that’s normal for a threequel outside the superhero genre. And, the first movie was a genuine phenomenon that met massive pent-up demand. Fifty Shades Darker did not have the newness factor going for it, and ended its run with $381.1M WW/$266.5M offshore. Freed is looking at $320M global through this weekend, and a likely finish in the $340M arena. One thing all the movies have in common is that they run a pretty even 30%/70% domestic to international split.In notable play, Ana and Christian have maintained a steely grip on Germany where the lovers stood down Black Panther for No. 1 last weekend and stayed dominant throughout the midweeks this week, grossing another $1M on Friday to top $26M there.

Traditionally, the lead markets for the Fifty Shades series have been a mix of the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Brazil. One thing the franchise doesn’t have going for it is the momentum in some emerging Asian markets like Malaysia and Indonesia, which have been throwing off significant numbers of late but where these films are too naughty to play.

At the film’s opening some of the majors saw lower numbers (think the UK and Australia), while growing markets like Argentina and Venezuela picked up slack to score well above the previous films.

Critics give the Fifty crew a hard time, yet audiences who salivated over the books get hot and bothered each time a new movie rolls around. Helping Freed, which beat industry expectations at open, is that it propels and closes a narrative circle. Over the course of the films, the bestseller as a foundation plus the Valentine’s Day timeline added to catchy and seductive marketing material for a demographic that is regularly underserved. And, as with the previous movies, the Freed soundtrack is doing rocking business, having reached No. 1 in 67 counties. Domestically, Fifty Shades played coast and coast and proved it wasn’t just a glossy brand relegated to metropolitan business.

The third and final chapter based on EL James’ bestselling soft-core phenomenon is produced by Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti and Marcus Viscidi, alongside James, with a screenplay by Niall Leonard. In holdover news, Fifty Shades Freed crossed $300 million worldwide. The third film in the E.L. James erotic bondage trilogy has now earned $306.7m on a $55m budget, including $217.4m overseas. The film should have around $6.7m (-61%) for its third domestic weekend, bringing its domestic cume to $89m.

So, yeah, it will probably crawl past the $100 million mark in North America. The entire Dakota Johnson/Jamie Dornan franchise has now earned over $1.25 billion worldwide on a combined production budget of $150 million. Even with marketing and related expenses, this is an obscenely profitable trilogy for Universal/Comcast Corp. and friends.

With a likely overall cume of just under $1.3b global, it’ll be one of the biggest R-rated franchises ever, behind only The Matrix ($1.6b over three films), The Hangover ($1.4b over three films) and Alien ($1.328b not counting the PG-13 Alien vs. Predator). I’m sure The Conjuring Universe will have something to say about that but ask me again next September after Warner Bros./Time Warner Inc.’s The Nun does its thing.

Peter Rabbit was the top domestic holdover this weekend, as Sony’s kid-targeted comedy earned $2.845 million (-26%) for a likely $11.4m (-34%) third weekend. That’ll give the $50m animated/live-action hybrid a $70.5m 17-day total. Sigh, I told them they should have picked up Paddington 2 when they had the chance, but now we won’t get Paddington v Peter Rabbit cross-over event.

Sony’s other kid-targeted biggie, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, earned another $1.34 million (-28%) on its tenth Friday. We should see a $5.5m (-33%) weekend for a new $387.1m domestic total. That means it’ll soon pass Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($389m) to become Karen Gillan’s top domestic grosser. At which point, it’ll be the top domestic earner for every major cast member.

Clint Eastwood’s The 15:17 to Paris earned another $1 million (-52%) on its third Friday for a likely $3.5m (-54%) weekend. That’ll give the true-life action drama a $32.1m 17-day cume, which is about in line with Eastwood’s smaller-scale directorial efforts. It’s no blow-out hit, but it’s staying the course.

The Greatest Showman earned $905,000 on Friday (-32%), setting the stage for a $3.375 million (-33%) tenth weekend. That’s the biggest drop thus far for the PT Barnum biopic, but by any other standard it’s still walking on air. A $160.741m domestic total will put it near the top five on the list of the leggiest releases ever among all remotely wide openers.

Early Man should have $1.44 million (-55%) in its second weekend, giving the Aardman animated comedy a poor $6.519m ten-day cume. Samson should earn around $1.16m (-40%) for an also-lousy $3.39m ten-day cume. In better news, The Post will have $79m domestic by Sunday, while fellow Oscar contenders Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri, The Shape of Water and The Darkest Hour will have $50m, $55m and $54m domestic respectively. And I, Tonya will have $28m tomorrow while The Phantom Thread will end its ninth weekend with $18.6m.

 

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