LOS ANGELES — Audiences were more than curious to check out the big-screen adaptation of the racy phenomenon “Fifty Shades of Grey” over the weekend. The erotic R-rated drama sizzled in its debut, earning an estimated $81.7 million from 3,646 theaters in its first three days, distributor Universal Pictures said on Sunday.

In addition to destroying Valentine’s and Presidents Day weekend records, “Fifty Shades of Grey” has also become the second-highest February debut ever, behind “Passion of the Christ’s” $83.9 million opening in 2004.

The chart-topping film cost a modest $40 million to produce, but could be on track to earn over $90 million across the four-day holiday weekend.

According to Universal, North American audiences were 68 percent female.

Internationally, director Sam Taylor-Johnson’s adaptation of E L James’ book earned an estimated $158.3 million from 9,637 locations in 58 territories. That’s the highest international opening for an R-rated film ever.