Fast & Furious 6 Accelerates Past Hangover Part III for Record $120 Million Plus Opening

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Universal’s Fast & Furious 6 starring Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson raced past the checkered flag during the Memorial Day weekend box office in North America, leaving the R-rated comedy The Hangover Part III and Fox’s Epic in the dust. The massive Fast & Furious 6 debut led the box office to fantastic numbers with the top ten up a huge 71 percent over last weekend and 90 percent from last year at this time.

The latest entry in the wildly popular Fast & Furious franchise Furious 6 roared out of the gate Thursday night to dominate the long holiday weekend’s box office. Some in Hollywood thought that the debut of rival Hangover Part III would pull away some of Fast 6’s audience, but in the end it appeared to be the other way around. Arriving on 3,658 screens, Furious 6 hit top speed to reach $98.5 million in its first three days – more than double the opening haul of Hangover III – on 3,658 screens.

The huge debut for Furious 6 was roughly 15% higher than the $86 million brought in two years ago for Fast Five in its first three days. For the four-day weekend, Universal may be looking at over $120 million in ticket sales. Adding to the movie’s good fortunes was the foreign debut totals. Furious 6 has earned a sensational $177 million since its record-breaking debut in the UK last weekend. The seventh chapter in the series is set to debut in July of 2014.

One reason why Furious 6 may have opened huge is that Fast Five was a very satisfying piece of entertainment that left many wanting more. The opposite may explain why Warner’s The Hangover Part III had the lowest opening of the trilogy: The Hangover Part II. Sure, the second one made a huge amount of money, but it hardly left anyone with the need for another Wolf Pack adventure. Despite the claims from the filmmakers that this would be the final installment in the series and that the film would be different in tone from the previous movies, few showed interest. An unfunny marketing campaign and dismal reviews didn’t help matters much.

While $42.4 million on 3,555 screens, $54.2 million since opening Thursday, is a somewhat solid number for an R-rated comedy, it is drastically down from the $85 million the second feature pulled in two years ago. With sequels tending to be front-loaded in terms of attendance and word-of-mouth somewhat on the dire side, it is doubtful that Hangover Part III is going to come even close to the second film’s $117 million four-day opening.

Last weekend’s number one film Star Trek Into Darkness had a stronger-than-expected hold in its second weekend of wide release. Down 46%, the latest Enterprise adventure earned a good $38 million on 3,907 screens to bring its two-week total to an estimated $147 million. Depending on how well the J.J. Abrams-directed sequel holds up over the next few weeks, Into Darkness could wind down its run near the $210 million mark.

In fourth place was the other wide release of the weekend, the Fox 3D animated feature Epic. The sole option for families in the marketplace this weekend, the latest feature from Blue Sky Studios arrived on 3,882 screens to earn a decent $34.2 million since Friday. As there are no new animated features on the horizon until Pixar’s Monsters University arrives in late June, Epic will have the family demographic all to it and should have a solid run ahead of it over the next few weeks. Overseas the movie has earned $42 million in early sales.

Rounding out the top five is the Disney/Marvel superhero smash Iron Man 3. The blockbuster slid 45% from last weekend to earn an estimated $19.4 million on 3,424 screens. To date, the movie has earned a great $367.5 million. The $400 million mark should be reached within the next few weeks. Overseas, the movie has earned $775 million so far. With $1.14 billion in the bank, Iron Man 3 has now moved into the number five spot on the all-time highest grossing movies worldwide.

The remainder of the top ten is as follows:

6. The Great Gatsby (Warner) $13.7 million (-42%); $114.4 million

7. Mud (Roadside Attractions) $1.92 million (-13%); $14.5 million

8. 42 (Warner Brothers) $1.2 million (-56%); $91 million

9. The Croods (Fox/Dreamworks) $1.2 million (-60%); $179.2 million

10. Oblivion (Universal) $815,000 (-65%); $87.2 million

Sony’s After Earth starring Will Smith and son Jaden Smith arrives next weekend but end up playing second fiddle to Fast & Furious 6 if word of mouth for the M. Night Shyamalan directed film isn’t positive.

- Shawn Fitzgerald

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