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Feb 15 (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 $81.7 million in ticket sales to soar to the top of U.S. 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 $35.6 million from Friday through Sunday, according to studio estimates.
Third place on the U.S. 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 $30.5 million in tickets at U.S. and Canadian theaters.
"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 $158 million overseas, for a global total of $240 million.
Early U.S. screenings on Thursday night brought in $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.
Comcast Corp's Universal Pictures released "Fifty Shades of Grey." "Kingsman: The Secret Service" was released by 20th Century Fox, the unit of 21st Century Fox. "The SpongeBob Movie" was distributed by Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc.
Reporting by Chris Michaud; Editing by Larry King