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'Fifty Shades of Grey' to dominate box office

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It’s Valentine’s Day weekend, Presidents’ Day weekend, and perhaps most important of all—sorry, former presidents and Saint Valentine—Fifty Shades of Grey weekend, meaning the movies are about to have a big four days.

SpongeBob: Sponge Out of Water took the number one spot away from American Sniper last weekend, but now’s the time for erotic drama Fifty Shades of Grey to shine. And shine it will: Fans of the book series have waited a long time to see Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey come to life on the big screen, and the fact that it’s premiering on the most romantic weekend of the year will work in its favor.

For those looking for something less, uh, sensual, Kingsman: The Secret Service is also opening—but it likely won’t be able to come close to Fifty Shades‘ likely huge numbers. Here’s how it might play out over the four-day weekend:

1. Fifty Shades of Grey — $93 million

Over 100 million copies of Fifty Shades have been sold internationally—meaning the movie already has a built-in audience, full of fans who devoured the books and want to see a visual representation of Anastasia and Christian’s relationship. And even those who haven’t read the books will have a reason to see it: The movie’s been the subject of quite a bit of hype, which will drive people who want to be in on the conversation to the theaters. Because the Fifty Shades series was born out of Twilight fan fiction and therefore has a lot of cross-over between fanbases, this movie could have a debut similar to the first Twilight‘s $69.6 opening with a final four-day total of around $93 million.

2. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water — $44.3 million

After making an impressive $55.4 million last weekend, SpongeBob should once again attract younger viewers—especially because it doesn’t have any new competition this weekend (parents probably won’t be taking their little ones to see the R-rated Fifty Shades). The first SpongeBob film dropped 44 percent between its first and second weekend, so this one should follow in that path and drop by about 40 percent.

3. Kingsman: The Secret Service — $37 million

Kingsman director Matthew Vaughn is most known for directing the X-Men films, but Kingsman—based on a little known comic about a secret service made up of spies—is more comparable to the first Kick-Ass, a film also directed by Vaughn but based on a comic much more obscure than the popular X-Men series. Kick-Ass opened at number one in 2010 with a healthy $19.8 million—but it also didn’t have the same star power as Kingsman, which features Oscar-nominated actors like Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, and Michael Caine. That will help this one make at least a few million more for its debut, with a final number somewhere in the high 30s.

4. American Sniper — $23.3 million 

Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-nominated American Sniper has only been dropping in sales by about 25 percent each week, and that likely won’t change this weekend, especially because the more patriotic moviegoers might want to see it for the first time (or second, or third) to celebrate Presidents’ Day. 

5. Jupiter Ascending — $12.3 million

Jupiter Ascending‘s debut almost exactly matched another Wachowski film’s premiere: Jupiter Ascending opened with $18.4 million, 2008’s Speed Racer opened with $18.6 million. If Ascending continues to match Speed Racer, it should decrease by about 50 percent in ticket sales this weekend.

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