Universal Pictures rolled out its highly-anticipated Fifty Shades of Grey for Thursday night preview screenings last night, taking in an estimated $8.6 million from 2,830 theaters. The Thursday tally is the second highest ever for an R-rated film, behind the Warner Bros.' comedy sequel The Hangover Part II, which took in $10.4 million from Thursday screenings back in 2011. Even though it earned a silver medal in all-time R rated Thurday Night openers, it did rack in two records for the box office books. The $8.6 million total is the highest Thursday gross for a February release, and it is also the highest in Universal Pictures history, besting Fast & Furious 6's $6.5 million in 2013.
Fifty Shades of Grey opens in 3,646 theaters today, 75 of which are in IMAX, with the adaptation of E.L. James' novel expected to pull in between $50 and $60 million this weekend. If it overperforms, there's a chance that it could break the all-time Valentine's Day weekend box office record, currently held by, appropriately, the 2010 romantic comedy Valentine's Day, which earned $63.1 million five years ago.
Sam Taylor-Johnson directed Fifty Shades of Grey, which stars Dakota Johnson as college student Anastasia Steele, who strikes up a scintillating affair with 27-year-old billionaire Christian Grey, played by Jamie Dornan. The supporting cast includes Luke Grimes, Jennifer Ehle, Eloise Mumford, Rita Ora, Marcia Gay Harden, Max Martini and Victor Rasuk. Do you think Fifty Shades of Grey can break the Valentine's Day record at the box office this weekend? Chime in with your thoughts, and check back on Sunday for the box office estimates.