Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Weekend Box Office: Sex and violence sell, go figure

“Are you curious?” asked the advertisements, to which America—and the world—responded with a resounding, “Yes, but only if you promise you’re not doing that thing where you film us in night-vision while we watch.” Moviegoers turned out in droves to titter nervously through the big-screen adaptation of that bestseller they were supremely embarrassed to find at their mom’s house. Fifty Shades Of Grey made $81.7 million over the Valentine’s Day weekend, a sum engorged enough to make it the second-best February opening ever behind only The Passion Of The Christ, a film that demonstrates a far less pleasurable use for whips and ropes. Fifty Shades also had the fifth-best R-rated opening ever, and did even better out the gate than the adaptation of its inspiration, the original Twilight. (Somewhere, a slash fiction writer is hastily renaming the characters in her “Hunger Games Threesome” story.) And America wasn’t the only country collectively looking to get its rocks off at a mall multiplex: The film made a size-does-matter $158 million worldwide, presumably thanks to grateful French 12-year-olds.

For those who didn’t let their libido (or date) choose the movie, there was some counter-programming to satiate the anti-romantic crowd. Kingsman: The Secret Service, a newfangled James Bond riff from the savvy mind of Mark Millar, exploited an even baser set of audience desires to the tune of $35.6 million. That’s more than many estimated the film would gross against Fifty Shades; box-office analysts apparently forgot to factor in the simple fact that violent adolescent fantasies almost always sell tickets, even (or perhaps especially) during the most love-centric weekend of the year. [Insert corny double entendre about “loaded guns” here.]

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While parents too busy for date night begrudgingly dragged their romance-ruining offspring to the second SpongeBob movie—which made $30.5 million on top of last week’s excellent intake—the country’s love affair with American Sniper hit the eight-week mark. (Customarily, this is around the time you should be introducing your parents to the movie.) Clint Eastwood’s wartime biopic added $16.4 million to its enormous haul, inching closer to overtaking the most recent Hunger Games movie as the highest-grossing film of 2014—this despite the insistence of its friends that American Sniper isn’t being honest and is all wrong for the nation.

Finally, for those who prefer their relationship movies even more chaste than the French claim Fifty Shades is, the faith-based Old Fashioned arrived like a sexless godsend. The movie made a cool million on just over 200 screens—nothing to sneeze, then quickly say “God bless you” at. Old Fashioned may have billed itself as the Christian alternative to Fifty Shades, but the films have at least two things in common: Neither features a tampon-related sex scene, and both are likely to plummet down the box-office charts as quickly as a suspect website might disappear from a browser history.

For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.

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