With Fifty Shades Freed, the Franchise Crosses $1 Billion

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The fanbase that propelled the novel to become the bestselling book of all time, plus the rest of us who were just curious to see how they pulled it off (so to speak), led the film to earn almost $100 million in its opening weekend when it arrived in 2015.

Peter Rabbit opened to tepid reviews from film critics and took in a middling $25 million across the US this week.

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Freed's bow will come in below those of its predecessors: Fifty Shades Darker opened to $46.6 million a year ago, and Fifty Shades of Grey opened to a whopping $85.2 million in 2015. The film received largely negative reviews from critics but a so-so B-plus CinemaScore from moviegoers. Last year's follow-up, "Fifty Shades Darker", debuted to $47.6 million and eventually collected $381 million worldwide.

Fifty Shades Freed features returning stars Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Marcia Gay Harden, Eric Johnson, Rita Ora, Luke Grimes, Victor Rasuk, Jennifer Ehle, Eloise Mumford, Max Martini, Callum Keith Rennie, Bruce Altman, and Robinne Lee, alongside newcomers Arielle Kebbel and Brant Daugherty. In a pattern set by recent trilogies including "The Maze Runner" and "Pitch Perfect", "Fifty Shades Freed" opened lower than its predecessor though Universal anticipates that the film will continue to play strongly throughout the week, particularly on Valentine's Day this Wednesday. Will Gluck directed the movie, which has garnered mixed reviews but a respectable A-minus CinemaScore.

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Another new entry makes its debut at number 3 in the shape of the Clint Eastwood directed The 15:17 To Paris which grosses $12.6 million. It earned a B- on CinemaScore and a 20% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The first film in the series, 2015's "Fifty Shades of Grey", brought in a massive 85 million dollars in its opening weekend and grossed more than 166 million dollars in North America and 571 million worldwide in total against a budget of only 40 million dollars.

"Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle", last weekend's victor, slips to #4.

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Company officials said Sunday that this program will evolve in 2018 to address the visitation patterns of their guests. And this is just the warm-up for some fundamental changes to Disney's ticketing programs yet to come later this year.

Next week, Disney opens the highly anticipated "Black Panther", Lionsgate debuts the animated "Early Man" and Pure Flix premieres the drama "Samson".

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