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Weekend Box Office: 'Furious 6' Leads Biggest Memorial Day In History, Doubles 'Hangover Part III' Opening

Box Office
by Gabe Toro
May 26, 2013 1:28 PM
9 Comments
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It was touted as one of the biggest box office match-ups of the year, but now that the dust has settled, it wasn’t even close. “Fast & Furious 6” more than doubled the weekend take of closest competitor “The Hangover Part III” in a showdown between two sequels we never expected to happen four years ago, when Universal reluctantly re-assembled the pieces for “Fast & Furious” and Warner Bros. gave us the first 'Hangover.' For one, success in perpetuity: an immediate sequel to “Fast & Furious 6” is already slated for next summer. But put down your bottles and cans, boys and girls – “The Hangover” ends here. With this weekend, Vin Diesel and the boys might be looking at a three-day global total close to $270 million.

The Fast and the Furious” was never thought to be a potential mega-hit, released as aggressive summer counterprogramming in 2001. Meant to be a flashy expose of underground street racing, it stunned box office prognosticators with $144 million in domestic ticket sales. A weaker, more expensive sequel followed ($127 million for “2 Fast 2 Furious”), leading all involved to depart, the keys handed to director Justin Lin for “The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift.” Even though that star-less spinoff only brought in $62 million, it revealed enough of Lin’s chops, and retained enough fans that a back-to-basics approach was viable. Enter the $70 million opening weekend for “Fast & Furious,” the $86 million taken during the first three days by amped-up follow-up “Fast Five,” and now, a part six that may just pocket $120 million over its first four days of release.

So where do we go from here? Universal originally intended to shoot parts six and seven back-to-back, and since they torpedoed that plan, it’s hard to see how a rushed “Fast & Furious 7” can trump these numbers, particularly with the departure of director Justin Lin. Lin’s not exactly a household name yet, but it’s impossible to ignore how his eye-popping, trailer-ready action sequences amped up fans in ways fellow series directors Rob Cohen and John Singleton could only dream. The next film will surely do great business (particularly with the actor attached to play the villain INSERT LARGE WINK HERE), but if the ads don’t promise action superior to Lin’s work (replacement James Wan is untested as far as big budgets), then it won’t be as big as its predecessor.

It was that rushed shooting schedule that forced Lin to leave the picture, though you wonder if Universal has plans for the boys behind the wheel for an eighth installment. Vin Diesel originally had some opinions about the seventh being part of an all-new trilogy, but come on, people – Diesel and co-star Paul Walker are already in their forties. Chatter persists about a spinoff for Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs character, while Universal likely has a bunch of ideas to stretch the brand name into 'Tokyo Drift'-like directions, much like how a series of unremarkable direct-to-DVD sex comedies inexplicably bore the “American Pie” brand name. But “Fast Five” did $626 million globally, and if this film can top that, even an underwhelming seventh film doesn’t mean you bail on more big budget theatrical sequels. We’ll be fast and furious together until we’re elderly, folks.

Negativity towards the last film, terrible reviews, and a bleak ad campaign solely harmed the third in the 'Hangover' series, to the point where this opening is a little more than half what “The Hangover Part II” brought in during its first weekend ($86 million). While Cinemascore rated this one a fairly-generous ‘B’, it’s hard to believe audiences didn’t feel their loyalty tested when the second film simply ran through a checklist of the gags from part one. Regardless, 'Part II' grabbed $586 million worldwide, so you’re forgiven for thinking the competition with 'Fast & Furious' for that young male demographic would be a bit closer. Then again, maybe teens bought tickets for the PG-13 “Fast & Furious 6” to sneak into this R-rated joke-fest. Boy, they must feel stupid.

Stunningly, as the first R-rated wide release of May, “The Hangover Part III” would count as the summer’s first big movie for “adults.” What a terrible film culture we live in. But the bigger surprise is how Warner Bros. didn’t understand how their film would largely play to the same “bros” that enjoy watching Vin Diesel rev his engine and move to a less-occupied date. Like perhaps this Friday, with sci-fi thriller “After Earth” targeting younger audiences, and magician caper “Now You See Me” aimed at… other people. Everything about this stinks of hubris, from Todd Phillips’ contemptuous statements to the press about the film to its $100 million budget (how?) to its storyline, which doesn’t even involve a hangover. By the time the next big comedy hits theaters (June 7th’s “The Internship”), fans will hardly remember the Wolfpack.

Even with two films aiming directly at the same demographic, it’s admittedly impressive how “Star Trek Into Darkness” held. The blockbuster sequel was always destined to perform strongly, even if it couldn’t match its predecessor, and it should be only three more weeks before it crosses $200 million domestic. Well played, Enterprise. Paramount will likely kick the tires on a follow-up, but they’ll probably need a drastic new direction for the series with director J.J. Abrams fleeing for “Star Wars.” It’s not a great place for a franchise to be, but given that this picture will outdraw the last one by a sizable margin overseas, everything’s in place for “Star Trek III: The Search For More Money.” That’s a “Spaceballs” joke, kids. Before your time.

There’s nothing entirely “Epic” about the first weekend for the latest offering from Blue Sky, makers of “Ice Age” and “Rio.” The kid-animation demographic has been so under-served this year that “The Croods” is currently celebrating its tenth weekend in the top ten, despite currently playing to sparsely-populated auditoriums, so “Epic” should have been able to blow the doors off. Busy ads failed to communicate exactly what this movie’s about, even to underestimated, fairly perceptive kids, and the stunt-casting of names like Beyonce, Steven Tyler and Pitbull was a gimmick that found no fans. Kid flicks play a long time, and Blue Sky makes some of the cheaper ‘toons in the marketplace (most cost well into triple figures, but this one clocks in at $93 million), so nobody’s talking “Epic 2” but nobody’s entirely disappointed either.

The billion-dollar “Iron Man 3” continues to march past guideposts as it stays afloat among a number of big blockbusters. A domestic result in the neighborhood of $400 million is all but guaranteed, but given the billion dollar global numbers, Marvel’s more than sitting pretty. The 3D boosted numbers, but being released in the wake of “The Avengers” also has to have contributed to the film's second-biggest opening in box office history. What does this mean for “Thor: The Dark World,” the next Marvel effort? “Thor” was teased at the tail-end of “Iron Man 2” to help build anticipation, but “Iron Man 3” had no such references, suggesting that the Norse superhero sequel will live or die behind audience’s affection for “The Avengers,” released a year and a half earlier. “Iron Man 3” simply proves that Marvel can sell Iron Man, as well as maybe the biggest movie star in the world. It doesn’t yet prove that Marvel can sell anything, let alone the sequel to the goofy “Thor” or something like “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

That’s one great “Gatsby”! The period drama has produced sensational results for Warner Bros., crossing $100 million earlier this week. That’s by far Baz Luhrmann’s most successful result, and it gives him a nice bit of clout given that his previous film, “Australia,” was hugely expensive but barely moved the needle in America. Luhrmann’s the least predictable of most filmmakers, so it’s interesting to see what he’ll do next. Dare he stage that Leonardo DiCaprio-starring version of “Hamlet” he’s discussed? Maybe he’ll do a musical, or a superhero film? Maybe he’ll do a musical superhero film??? Whatever the case, this is the commercial peak of Luhrmann’s career, as it’s not likely many filmmakers would be able to get an adaptation of “The Great Gatsby” into a nine figure gross.

Warner Bros. needed those 'Hangover' screens, so down goes “42.” The baseball drama hits $90 million this weekend, but dropping below a thousand screens means that’s likely all she wrote for the spring hit. This success has gotten Chadwick Boseman consideration for a number of young leading man roles in Hollywood, which is exciting. As for the slight boost it’s given Harrison Ford, that’s largely irrelevant given that Ford is playing an elderly man in this and he’s got another “Star Wars” appearance on the horizon anyway. Also still hanging around is “Mud,” which has collected a solid $15 million in wide release thus far, and is the season's one big indie hit.

The big winner in indie release was "Before Midnight," which grossed $274k at five locations. "Fill the Void" also registered strong stats with $60k at three theaters, but it was a surprisingly much quieter showing for "We Steal Secrets: The Story Of WikiLeaks," which grabbed $29k at four locations. The biggest returning grosser was the 60-theater showing of "Frances Ha," grossing a strong $612k. Support your local arthouse theaters, boys and girls. 

1. Furious Six (Universal) - $98.5 million
2. Vulgar Crap Part III (Warner Bros.) - $42.4 million 
3. Star Trek In Name Only (Paramount) - $38 million ($147 mil.)
4. Epic (Fox) - $34 million
5. Iron Man Three (Disney) - $19.4 million ($368 mil.)
6. The Great Gatsby In Name Only (Warner Bros.) - $13.7 million ($114 mil.)
7. Mud (Roadside Attractions) - $2 million ($15 mil.)
8. Q: What Was Jackie Robinson’s Jersey Number? No Googling (Warner Bros.) - $1.2 million ($90 mil.)
9. The Croods (Fox) - $1.2 million ($179 mil.)
10. Oblivion (Universal) - $815k ($87 mil.)

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9 Comments

  • Fred | May 26, 2013 8:12 PMReply

    "come on, people – Diesel and co-star Paul Walker are already in their forties. " Wow, we better get those ice floes ready.

  • Dany | May 26, 2013 6:42 PMReply

    Iron man 3 is messed,Thor must be better,!

  • Real | May 26, 2013 6:11 PMReply

    "Vulgar Crap Part III " LMAO!

  • John | May 26, 2013 4:25 PMReply

    Ouch at Hangover 3 numbers. Deserved to underperform though

  • bwaters | May 26, 2013 2:43 PMReply

    Wondering how James Wan would do, given he's almost exclusively done shitty horror films, I watched his film Death Sentence. It's a ludicrously overwrought melodrama, but that isn't really a major problem for Fast and Furious films. More importantly, he directed the shit out of the action in it, which suggests he could surprise us.

  • Glass | May 26, 2013 3:44 PM

    This is why you have second unit ("action unit") directors. It's how Paul Greengrass went from small docudramas into insanely well-done car chases in the Bourne movies - Dan Bradley, the second unit director. Not taking anything away from Greengrass, just pointing out that most of the time, complicated action scenes are handled by glorified stunt coordinators.

  • Stan Lee | May 26, 2013 2:12 PMReply

    Don't you mean Mash Up..And I was the main star anyway so strike a stick at that Mr Blake...

  • Donald Blake | May 26, 2013 2:08 PMReply

    Thor was never goofy but Iron Man 3 should have been called the RD Jr mixed up mass up.

    Marvel fans love Thor.

  • Barfolomew | May 26, 2013 1:39 PMReply

    I got the Spaceballs joke!

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