Softcore S&M film Fifty Shades of Grey whips all other films on opening weekend

US actress Dakota Johnson poses for photographers ahead of the British Premiere of Fifty Shades of Grey in London on Feb 12. -- PHOTO: AFP
US actress Dakota Johnson poses for photographers ahead of the British Premiere of Fifty Shades of Grey in London on Feb 12. -- PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Fifty Shades of Grey, the widely anticipated adaptation of the best-selling novel about a kinky relationship between a businessman and a college student, took in US$81.7 million (S$110.7 million) in ticket sales to soar to the top of United States and Canadian box office charts.

The film, which stars James Dornan and Dakota Johnson as the libidinous couple, far outpaced the No 2 release, Kingsman: The Secret Service, which took in US$35.6 million from Friday through Sunday, according to studio estimates.

Third place on the US Presidents Day holiday weekend went to the family-friendly The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, based on the popular television show about a talking animated sponge, which sold US$30.5 million in tickets at US and Canadian theatres.

Fifty Shades, getting a boost from a Valentine's Day opening, was released earlier in the week in 57 foreign markets. It took in an additional US$158 million overseas, for a global total of US$240 million.

Early US screenings on Thursday night brought in US$8.6 million, setting the scene for a record-breaking opening for any Presidents Day weekend.

Kingsman is an adaptation of a popular comic series starring Samuel L Jackson and Colin Firth about a spy agency's training program and a global threat by a tech genius.