Fifty Shades seduces Aussie audiences

16 February, 2015 by Emily Blatchford

It comes as no surprise that Sam Taylor-Johnson’s controversial Fifty Shades of Grey topped the Australian box office on the weekend, raking in $10,381,648 across 270 screens.

The film, adapted from E.L. James’ best-selling book of the same name, follows the plight of literature student Anastacia (Dakota Johnson) who falls in love with the handsome but tormented Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) who “likes to exercise control in all things” – including over her.


The film, distributed by Universal, has had extensive media coverage as its content divides camps to the extent where some women’s groups have called for boycotts. Add this to a prolonged and no doubt costly marketing campaign, even those who have no desire to see the film will likely still be aware that it’s on.

Its staggering debut knocked off last week’s number one performer, Kingsman: The Secret Service, to second place. Fox’s adventure comedy took $2,974,523 over 244 screens in its second week, bringing its Australian box office total to $8,443,820.

American Sniper continues to perform well in its fourth week of release, amassing $1,218,548 over 243 screens. That takes the Clint Eastwood directed action/drama to an Aus box office total of $16,129,942.

Universal’s The Theory of Everything was down 32% in its third week of release, according to Rentrak estimates. The biographical romance was shown over 213 screens and took $658,903, bringing its total Australian earnings to $4,132,800.

Despite all the controversy surrounding the release of Sony’s The Interview, Australian audiences weren’t in a rush to see what all the hype was about. The comedy, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, pulled in $549,947 over 180 screens. It follows Dave Skylark and producer Aaron Rapoport (Franco and Rogen respectively) who run a celebrity tabloid show, of which, surprisingly, Kim Jong-un is a fan. When they land an interview with the North Korean dictator, they are recruited by the CIA to assassinate him.

The film made headlines around the world when its planned US Christmas Day release was cancelled following a terrorism threat against theatres showing the film. It also is thought to be the reason behind the now-infamous hacking of the Sony Pictures computer network.

Robert Connolly’s family feature Paper Planes continues to soar in week five, taking $368,937 across 226 screens. The film, which stars Aussie up-and-comer Ed Oxenbould alongside Deborah Mailman and Sam Worthington, currently has an Aus box office total of $8,094,488.

The Imitation Game slipped 40% in its seventh week of release, raking in $365,559 across 182 screens. The biographical drama, distributed by Roadshow, has taken a total of $16,880,410 at the Australian box office so far.

Despite garnering award buzz (including being in the running for Best Picture at the Academy Awards) Ava DuVernay’s Selma had a fairly quiet opening weekend, taking $324,056 over 110 screens. The film follows Martin Luther King's campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965.

What We Did on our Holiday also had a soft opening, despite generally positive reviews. The comedy follows Doug (David Tennant) and Abi (Rosamund Pike) and their three children who travel to the Scottish Highlands for Doug’s father Gordie’s (Billy Connolly) 75th birthday. The only problem is, Abi and Doug have separated and the entire family have decided to keep it a secret the weekend in order to protect Gordie’s health. Shown over 66 screens, the film took a total of $270,122.

In tenth place came The Wedding Ringer, which, in its fourth week, took in $173,994 over 172 screens. The comedy has so far amassed an Australian box office total of $2,944,373.

It’s interesting to note that Russell Crowe’s The Water Diviner continues to draw a decent audience, taking in $117,790 over 153 screens in its eight week. The film has so far amassed an impressive $15,527,417 at the Australian box office.