Lego Batman dominates Fifty Shades Darker at box office

Moviegoers could choose violence, sex or family-friendly fare this weekend with three diverse new offerings that all drew healthy numbers at the box office.

The Lego Batman Movie took the top spot with $55.6m, dominatingFifty Shades Darker, which attracted $46.8m, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The spinoff of 2014’s Lego Movie benefited from good reviews and a lack of competition in the family space, which is expected to help it maintain its pace going into the holiday weekend, when kids are out of school.

A whopping 48% of opening weekend audiences was under 25. It also bodes well for Warner Bros.’ next Lego spinoff, The Lego Ninjago Movie, set for September.

Audiences were slightly less curious to catch up with the exploits of Christian Grey and Ana Steele the second time around. The sequel didn’t compare to Fifty Shades of Grey’s $85.2m debut in 2015.

Nick Carpou, Universal Pictures’ president of domestic theatrical distribution, said the first movie debuted in a “perfect storm.” The film adaptation of the best-selling book had gained immense interest and Valentine’s Day fell on a Saturday in 2015, making the movie a date-night destination. This year, the holiday lands on a Tuesday.

“This is a great start,” Carpou said, noting that the CinemaScore from audiences is stronger for the sequel. “The story will be told through the first part of this week.”

The other R-rated sequel in theatres this weekend, John Wick: Chapter 2 took third place. With $30m, it more than doubled the debut of the original. The Keanu Reeves hit man flick became a sleeper hit on the small screen, and that goodwill helped bolster interest in the follow-up, which is also getting strong reviews.

“People really love its unapologetic violence,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst for box office tracker comScore.

Rounding out the top five were holdovers Split, the M. Night Shyamalan psychological thriller that added $9.3 million, for a total of $112.3m in earnings, and Oscar contenderHidden Figures with $8m, boosting its total to $131.5m.

It was a strong weekend overall for theatres, attributable to the different options available, Dergarabedian said.

“The tried and true brands are what people really gravitated to this weekend. The top three movies this weekend all based on brands that people know and love,” he said. “Each film drew their own audience without harming the other films. This was a perfectly programmed weekend.”

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