'Fifty Shades Darker' locks in $21.5 million at Friday box office

Universal's "Fifty Shades Darker" attracted plenty of Friday night moviegoers, as the sexy drama reeled in $21.5 million at 3,710 locations.

The studio is projecting an opening weekend of $39 to $44 million for the "Fifty Shades of Grey" sequel, which would be a significant drop from the original, which opened to $85 million on Valentine's Day weekend two years ago. "Fifty Shades of Grey" went on to reel in $571 million worldwide.

"Fifty Shades Darker" also topped the Thursday charts with $5.7 million despite an abysmal 10 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but it's not expected to win the weekend, as "The Lego Batman Movie" should draw plenty of Saturday and Sunday daytime moviegoers.

The film is based on the erotic novel series by E.L. James and stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan reprising their roles as main characters Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, respectively. Marcia Gay Harden, Rita Ora, Luke Grimes, Kim Basinger and Bella Heathcote also feature in the movie. James Foley directs "Fifty Shades Darker," while Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti return to produce alongside James.

See photos from the film's premiere:

Also Read:'Fifty Shades Darker' Chains Up $5.7 Million at Thursday Box Office

"The Lego Batman Movie" placed second at the Saturday box office, clicking its way to $15 million at 4,088 locations. Chris McKay wrote and directed the Warner Bros. film, which stars Will Arnett as the title character, reprising his role from "The Lego Movie." The film also features Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson and Ralph Fiennes, and carries an estimated $80 million production budget. Critics seem to love the animated movie based on the iconic toys, giving it a 91 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

"Lego Batman" began its run with a modest $2.2 million at the Thursday night box office and couldn't pass "Fifty Shades Darker" on Friday, but its family target audience should turn out for earlier showtimes later in the weekend. The first "Lego Movie" made just $400,000 in Thursday night preview shows, which didn't stop it from a $69 million opening weekend. Warner Bros. had projected a $60 million opening weekend for "Lego Batman," but others have forecast as much as $70 million. Lego Batman will play on 376 bigger — and more expensive — IMAX screens, which should help boost its box office gross.

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