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Fifty Shades plummets, but maintains lead

NASHILLE (BP) — Fifty Shades of Grey plummeted 73 percent at the box office in its second weekend, as critics predicted, but still held the top spot in weekend movie sales at $23.2 million.

The drop is the second-biggest decline ever for a movie playing at over 3,100 cinemas, the Box Office Mojo movie monitoring service reported.

The movie topped $85 million in its opening four-day weekend beginning Feb. 12, and has earned $130 million to date, Box Office Mojo reported Feb. 22. The movie’s strong opening was partly attributed to its Valentine’s weekend premiere and was not predicted to hold. Additionally, the movie received poor reviews, including 25 percent on the Rotten Tomatoes “tomatometer” and a “C+” from CinemaScore polling.

Many Southern Baptist leaders have described the movie as pornography and encouraged Christians to avoid it.

The book series the movie is based upon exploited the attraction of the romance novel to female readers and shifted the focus to pornography, R. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote at AlbertMohler.com.

“While many had noted the attraction of so-called ‘romance novels’ to many women, the arrival of the Fifty Shades series announced that the culture at large was ready to shift to what can only be described as explicitly pornographic,” Mohler said. “Furthermore, the plot line of the series, now quite well known in the larger society, is devoted to forms of sexuality that had historically been defined as perverse and abusive.

“Going to see [the movie] or reading the book series is an exercise in pornographic intent and effect,” Mohler said. “It is also an act of defiance against the goodness of the gift of sex as granted to humanity by God. Furthermore, the series is an assault upon the dignity of every human being.”

Joel Owen, lead pastor of Grace Fellowship Church in Kingsport, Tenn., described the depravity of the relationship between the lead characters in the movie in an article submitted to Baptist Press.

“Christian and secular reviews alike describe the ‘relationship’ not as exciting, but abusive,” Owen wrote. “There are traits like possessiveness, stalking, high pressure to comply, etc., and none of it is designed to be long term in nature.”

Evangelical blogger Samuel James noted that even the actors themselves – Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, who portrayed the couple seemed to be ashamed of their roles, judging by an interview during the movie’s publicity tour.

“To me, both Dornan and Johnson sound like actors who deeply regret signing on to make this film,” James blogged at patheos.com.

“Self-loathing is a prominent feature of pornography. Porn demands justification but never rewards those efforts with peace. That may or may not be what these actors are feeling, but to be honest, I hope it is.

“If two attractive, wealthy profiteers of porn were to be transparent about the scarring effects of participating in it, many who are trapped at Eros’s altar might get courage to flee,” James said. “The Cross of Jesus is proof that God loves to turn the darkness against itself.”

Box Office Mojo predicts the movie’s sales could rest below $170 million at the end of its run.