LOS ANGELES • "Don't miss the climax," said the marketing folk behind Fifty Shades Freed, starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan.
Over the weekend, the crowd took heed, with the last chapter in the erotic romance trilogy - that has enjoyed huge popularity among mostly female audiences - receiving a hot reception in cinemas.
It vaulted to the top of the North American box office with an impressive weekend opening estimated at US$38.8 million (S$51.4 million).
With ticket sales rebounding sharply from totals depressed a week ago by football's Super Bowl, Freed led three new releases to the top, with Peter Rabbit coming in second and The 15:17 To Paris placing third, industry tracker Exhibitor Relations reported.
But the final chapter of the steamy Fifty Shades series dominated. It accounted for a third of the total estimated take of the top 12 movies, helping push global sales for the trilogy past US$1 billion.
The slightly more family-friendly Peter Rabbit, which mixes live actors with computer-generated animation, earned US$25 million.
The 15:17, director Clint Eastwood's recounting of how three Americans foiled a 2015 terrorist attack aboard a passenger train in France, netted US$12.6 million.
In fourth place, falling off from last weekend's top spot, was Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle, at US$9.8 million. It has roared up more than US$800 million globally.
In fifth, down one spot, was The Greatest Showman, which earned US$6.4 million.