Fifty Shades of Grey promises to break Valentine's Day records

DetailsMichelle Clancy | 13 February 2015

If pre-release tracking holds, the hotly anticipated film debut of Fifty Shades of Grey, a movie about the sexual proclivities of a certain fictional billionaire, is expected to rake in more in ticket sales during its first weekend than its entire production budget of about $40 million.

SNL Kagan noted that the film, based on a bestselling romance novel by E.L. James, is the fastest-selling R-rated movie in Fandango's 15-year-history, with many early showings around the US already sold out. That success has led the studio behind the movie to green light two sequels, meaning James' full trilogy is slated for the big screen. But the dark nature of the R-rated movie marks a big departure from past top-grossing films released in time for Valentine's Day date night.

An SNL Kagan analysis of films with romantic themes released near Valentine's Day during the past 10 years shows that many of the most successful were aimed at inspiring laughs. For instance, 2005's Hitch, starring Will Smith as a professional "date doctor," pulled in $43.1 million during its opening weekend and went on to record a total domestic gross of $177.6 million and a profit margin of 47.6%.