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Box Office: Fifty Shades Ties Up SA Audiences Again


 

For the last few years, I’ve looked on incredulously as South African movie trends just flummoxed me. Globally celebrated films like Wonder Woman barely made a dent here locally, but middle-of-the-road animated fare regularly made big bank. Well, those and Fifty Shades movies. Blame it perhaps on our country’s conservative past when it came to adult entertainment (remember having to scratch off the stars in magazines?), but for some reason, these movies have always pulled in huge numbers. Fifty Shades of Grey had the biggest opening of 2015 – yes, even bigger than The Force Awakens – with R25 million, while Fifty Shades Darker’s R19 million 2016 debut was in the top 5 of the year. That being said though, it seems even South Africans are now getting weary with this franchise.

With Fifty Shades Freed posting the lowest opening numbers for the franchise in the US, local cinemagoers have followed suit giving the last chapter in the trilogy just a R9 million debut. That’s a substantial drop from previous chapters. Still, it was enough to take the top spot on a relatively quiet weekend as the box office prepares for the release massive release of Black Panther this coming Friday.

Following on in second and third place you find last few week’s no.1 and 2 respectively in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Maze Runner: The Death Cure. Jumanji is currently the biggest earner on the charts having pulled in over R57 million in its 7-week stay thus far, and it added another R1.5 million to that total. Maze Runner has really had people running to see it, and it just barely staved off fourth place newcomer Tad the Lost Explorer – yes, it wouldn’t be a South African box office chart if some middling animated movie that made almost no money anywhere else and got trounced by critics didn’t open in the top 5 locally. South Africa, you sometimes vex me.

Skipping down a couple places over Den of Thieves and The Greatest Showman – the latter of which has shown incredible staying power, dropping down just 17% – we find the next two newcomers in 12 Strong and Just Getting Started occupying 7th and 8th place. Both films could not even crack half a million though, opening in almost the exact same number of cinemas for almost the exact same amount of money.

Rounding out the top 10 we have a couple of holdovers in Inxeba (The Wound) and The Commuter, two movies that could not be more different. While the latter is just another Liam Neeson action movie, Inxeba is the official South African contender for the Oscars. The local drama has been racking up mountains of praise from international film festivals, but its release in South Africa has been marred by controversy and the threat of violence as protests have erupted in response to what some claim is its offensive depiction of traditional Xhosa culture.

With traditional leaders now having successfully petitioned the Film Publication Board to have the film reclassified as X18 – basically, on the same level as hardcore pornography – it means the movie will be pulled from most, if not all of the 17 cinemas it is currently screening in. And while Netflix has picked up the rights to screen the film, it’s not available on the local version of the streaming platform which means that South Africans will now have no fully legal means of watching the movie that will represent them at the Oscars. Sigh.

NO.
MOVIE NAME
WEEKEND GROSS
PERCENTAGE CHANGE
LOCAL GROSS
LAST WEEK’S POSITION
1 Fifty Shades Freed R9.1 million NE R9.1 million NE
2 Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle R1.5 million -21 R57 million 1st
3 Maze Runner: The Death Cure R953 607 -43% R6.5 million 2nd
4 Tad the Lost Explorer R907 193 NE R907 193 NE
5 Den of Thieves R678 991 -32% R2.1 million 3rd
6 The Greatest Showman R518 966 -17% R9.5 million 5th
7 12 Strong R460 391 NE R460 391 NE
8 Just Getting Started R414 228 NE R414 228 NE
9 Inxeba (The Wound) R370 452 -37% R1.2 million 6th
10 The Commuter R354 609 -56% R8.1 million 4th

NE = New Entry

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