Weekend Wrap-Up

Fast & Furious Races To Over $70 Million

By John Hamann

April 5, 2009

Oh, come on.

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Luckily for Universal, the two stars of the original, Diesel and Walker, were almost down and out when approached for the fourth film. Diesel had flopped with The Chronicles of Riddick ($24 million opening, $57 million finish), did a positive kids movie in The Pacifier ($30.5 million opening, $113 million finish), but then had two bad flops in Find Me Guilty, which pretty much failed in every department, earning less than $2 million, and followed that up with Babylon AD, which opened to $9 million and finished with $22.5 million. For Walker, the afterglow of 2 Fast 2 Furious was remarkably similar to that of Diesel. He had three films that opened to less than $8.4 million (Timeline, Into the Blue, Running Scared), had a small hit with the kids' flick Eight Below ($20 million opening, $80 million finish), and appeared in Clint Eastwood's Flags of our Fathers, which disappointed on a number of levels. Walker was pretty much done until Fast & Furious, so I will blame this movie for resurrecting his career.

This brings us back to the fourth film, Fast & Furious, which represents a remarkable reboot for this franchise, much like the Friday the 13th re-issue we saw earlier this year. After opening to $30 million on Friday, Fast & Furious had an internal multiplier of 2.41, which indicates extreme front-loading and a quick burnout to come. However, if this one even manages to double its opening weekend gross stateside, this is going to be a huge win for Universal, as it cost Universal $80 million to make, and the studio finds the equivalent of summer success in early spring. This is the smartest scheduling move I've seen in a very long time.

Second spot goes to last weekend's supposed juggernaut in Monsters vs. Aliens, a film we thought had opened big with $59 million until Fast & Furious showed up. In somewhat of a suprise, MvA grossed only $33.5 million and fell a large-for-animation 44%. Usually films like this perform much better in their second frames; however, the 3-D angle may be causing some front-loading. Fast & Furious also may have had an effect, dominating the larger theaters at googleplexes across the continent. The good news for Paramount and DreamWorks Animation is that this sophomore weekend is still in the top five weekend grosses for the month of April, and MvA has a total so far of $105.7 million.


Third goes to the horror flick The Haunting in Connecticut, which debuted last weekend with a surprisingly strong $23 million. Haunting did about as expected, earning $9.6 million, and dropping 59%. Haunting now has a running total of $37.2 million, and is having a better time in theaters than Lionsgate could have ever dreamed of.

Nic Cage and Knowing land in fourth, as Cage actually enjoys a film with some sort of legs, instead of stumps that end at the knees. Knowing earned $8.1 million in its third weekend. The disaster porn flick from Alex Proyas was off 45%, but that is still a good hold for Cage and the material. From Summit Entertainment, Knowing has a total of $58.2 million so far, and an $80 million finish isn't out of the question.

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