Truly bad news for the good, the true and the beautiful: with $81 million in box office receipts, 50 Shades of Grey came in second only to The Passion of the Christ for the best February weekend opening ever.
The movie opened in 58 markets around the world, bringing in $158 million globally and setting weekend records in 11 countries including in the largely Catholic countries of Italy, Argentina, and Poland.
According to the website Box Office Mojo, the movie also set records for "Universal Pictures in the U.K. ($21.1 million), France ($12 million), Russia ($10.5 million), and Brazil ($8.9 million)." It brought in $15.2 million in Germany, $$8.6 million in Australia, $8.1 million in Mexico, and $7.9 million in Spain.
Box Office Mojo reports that among all R-rated movies, 50 Shades "ranks fifth behind The Matrix Reloaded, American Sniper, The Hangover II, and The Passion of the Christ."
Such a big opening is not surprising given that the book has sold 100 million copies worldwide. Box Office Mojo predicts it will coast easily to the $300 million mark globally, placing it within reach of the biggest R-rated movies in history; The Matrix Reloaded ($461 million), Troy ($364 million), The Hangover II ($332 million) and Ted ($331 million).
But 50 Shades is not getting sterling reviews, so it might take a huge plunge in coming weeks.
There is a raging debate on Facebook between people who are against this movie. Are the protests and boycotts a worthwhile endeavor, or are they just calling attention to the movie and even increasing ticket sales? There is certainly a risk that the latter position will prove true. But I come down on the side of the former.
The thing about pornography is that, while it is bad to consume it, the knowledge that it is bad to consume it is very good. If we were to let 50 Shades open without publicly raising our concerns, some viewers could mistakenly believe there is nothing to be concerned about. And that would make something bad even worse.
So I say, keep beating the drums! If it gets the attention of inattentive people, so be it. But as the theatre lights dim, they'll know they're watching something that has been called offensive and degrading. And the question before them will be: "Do you agree with the protestors?" It will be an invitation for them to say yes.