Fast & Furious Races to Victory
By John Hamann
May 26, 2013
Wow. What a Memorial Day weekend at the box office. Fast & Furious 6, The Hangover Part III and Epic all debuted this weekend, while taking on Star Trek Into Darkness, Iron Man 3 and The Great Gatsby. Something for everyone is a bit of understatement for the Memorial Day frame, which means records fell and for the second weekend in a row, money was likely left on the table.
Last year was quiet over the Memorial Day long weekend, with only the only new releases being Men In Black 3 ($54.6 million three-day) and Chernobyl Diaries ($8 million three-day). The year prior had Hangover Part II and Kung Fu Panda 2 combining for a record breaking three-day tally of $133.6 million. 2010 was floppish, as Shrek Forever After repeated on top, while Sex and the City 2 ($31 million opening) and Prince of Persia ($30 million opening) disappointed. Memorial Day Weekend always brings the power, but usually, tentpoles open alone (MIB3, Indiana Jones 4), and sequels are often prevalent. This weekend, if we count up numbers after titles, the sequel count is an amazing 17, with Fast & Furious 6, Hangover 3, Star Trek 2, Iron Man 3 and Before Midnight (3).
This weekend, we have two huge tentpoles opening on the same weekend (Furious 6 and The Hangover Part III), with both hunting the same audience. At BOP, we have always said that there is no real limit to what the box office can earn, as long as all the right pieces are in place – the right weekend, the right movie – and that any limitations to overall totals is a fallacy, as the age of the multiplex has changed box office. That idea gets tested this weekend, as we have four films all going after the adult male demographic this weekend – Fast & Furious 6, The Hangover Part III, Iron Man 3, and Star Trek Into Darkness. Should one of the openers not get dismissed – including the Fox/Blue Sky animated product Epic – this Memorial Day weekend had a very strong chance at being the biggest ever.
Our number one film of the weekend is Fast & Furious 6, as Paul Walker emerges from his hole once again to appear in this extremely popular franchise. Fast & Furious 6 got started on Thursday night for previews, earning a hot $6.5 million. Sure, it wasn’t the $15.6 million that Iron Man 3 earned from previews, but it was just short of Iron Man 2’s Thursday box office, which came in at $7.5 million, and it decimated Fast Five’s previews, which rang up $3.6 million. Like Iron Man 3, the Thursday previews for Fast & Furious 6 indicated it was going to be huge, and huge it is.
Over Friday, the Vin Diesel/Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson sequel grossed an amazing $38.2 million, but that figure includes those well-attended Thursday night showings. That gives the Universal release a "true" Friday figure of $31.7 million. Fast Five, the previous entry in the series, earned $34.4 million over its opening day, but $3.6 million came from Thursday, so its "true" Friday was $30.8 million. So, we know that the franchise remains hot, but isn’t growing too much compared to the last release. This is not a late April weekend, though. It's Memorial Day, so the action packed thriller was going to have four days to work instead of the three the previous version had. Fast & Furious 6 doubled the $17.7 million first Friday of Men In Black 3, and effectively put itself on course for a $100 million plus four day long weekend. I shiver when I think that $100 million was once the sought after TOTAL for a movie. Wow, have times changed.