Universal and Focus Features’ Fifty Shades of Grey kicked off its North American release at 2,830 engagements last night, racking up the second-highest Thursday night preview ever with $8.6M. The record holder for an R-rated preview belongs to Warner Bros. The Hangover 2, which made $10.4M in midnight previews before its Memorial Day weekend 2011 release.
Fifty Shades is also Universal’s highest-grossing late-night show ever, beating 2013’s Fast & Furious 6 which made $6.5M, and it’s also the highest late-night showing ever for a film in February. Other high-grossing R-rated Thursday night previews include 2010’s Paranormal Activity 2 ($6.3M) and March 2009’s Watchmen ($4.6M).
Today, Fifty Shades of Grey expands to 3,645 theaters including 75 IMAX hubs. Universal is expecting a four-day of $50M, though many distrib sources believe the E.L. James adaptation has the potential to clear $60M.
20th Century Fox’s Kingsman: Secret Service also launched last night with $1.4M at 2,569 venues, making it the second-largest Thursday evening preview in February. Projections for the film are eyeing a bow in the $20M range over three days.