With Fifty Shades Freed, the Franchise Crosses $1 Billion

Indie Focus: Women, men and the moment in 'Fifty Shades Freed,' 'Seeing Allred' and 'Permission'

"The 15:17 To Paris", the third of this weekend's big new releases, follows at #3.

In the epitome of a predictable outcome, "Fifty Shades Freed" earns #1 at the U.S. weekend box office.

In North America, Fifty Shades Freed's opening weekend audience was 75 percent female and 55 percent under 30.

Hopping to second place and coming in ahead of analysts' projections is Sony's hybrid live-action and animated family comedy Peter Rabbit, with an estimated $25 million from 3,725 locations.

But the final chapter of the steamy Fifty Shades series - promoted by Universal with the not-so-subtle line, Don't Miss the Climax - dominated.

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Fifty Shades of Grey opened to a shocking $85.2 million in 2015, and the sequel, Fifty Shades Darker, brought home a little more than half that with $46.6 million in its first weekend a year ago.

Based on Beatrix Potter's children's stories about a mischievous bunny, Peter Rabbit stars James Corden in the title role, along with Domhnall Gleeson, Rose Byrne, and Daisy Ridley.

Another newcomer, Warner Bros.' "The 15:17 To Paris" opened in third place with an estimated 12.6 million dollars. 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.

Rounding out the top five were the holdovers, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, with $10-million, and The Greatest Showman, with $6-million. But it's all just setting the stage for Black Panther, which opens next week.

"This weekend is merely the calm before the proverbial Marvel-powered storm as Black Panther is poised to leap into theatres with potentially record-breaking results", said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore. The film tells the stunning story of real-life heroism by three young American passengers who thwarted a terrorist attack on a train bound for Paris on August 21, 2015. The biographical drama film was produced and directed by Clint Eastwood.

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