Weekend Box Office: The Hangover Part III No Match For Fast & Furious 6‘s $98.5 Million Opening

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In Fast & Furious 6 you will believe that people can fly.

In my last box office report I predicted that Fast & Furious 6 would take the weekend. It was set to be one of the biggest match-ups in terms of earnings of the year, with F&F6 squaring off against The Hangover Part III. Now that the weekend is over, it turns out that the match-up wasn’t even a contest. Even before seeing the last installment of Todd Phillips’ comedy, I had a good idea that Justin Lin’s fourth Fast & Furious sequel would be the victor. It all started when Warner Bros. decided to push the release day of Hangover up a day to Thursday. Die-hard fans of the series would likely be inclined to see it that Thursday, versus wait for the weekend. However, even while Phillips and company retooled the final installment to be different from the first two, they failed to make a better comedy. And poor word-of-mouth proves this. (The Friday-Sunday opening for The Hangover Part III was the weakest opening for the series.)

As for fast & Furious 6, a sequel is already in development and slated to hit theaters next summer (July 11, 2014). If you including international receipts, the latest F&F sequel has a three-day global total of $275 million. Yeah, this series isn’t slowing down any time soon. In what can best be described as an anomaly, The Fast and the Furious series has done something that no other franchise can claim. It’s actually getting better, in terms of box office and critical acclaim (well, if you count going from a 27% rating for Fast & Furious to a 72% rating for Fast & Furious 6).

Nevertheless, one can assume that with the rushed timetable for Fast Seven and a new director at the helm (James Wan is taking over for Justin Lin), an opening of this magnitude is probably not going to happen. But it is impressive to see its progress as a box office juggernaut rise over the years. Fast & Furious‘ $70 million opening beget a $86 million three-day total of Fast Five, only for Fast & Furious 6 to eclipse that total with a very impressive weekend haul of $98.5 million (and will probably reach $120 million if you include Memorial Day performance).

It may be too early to tell where the series is headed, or if Fast Seven (final title name pending) is the grand finale, but Vin Diesel has said in interviews about the possibility of extending the series for at least three more movies to bring it to a total of nine. If this is true, then it would have outlasted a number of horror franchises. There’s also talk of a spinoff for Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbes character. My idea is to make it a buddy comedy with Hobbes partnering with a guy named Calvin.

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How is it possible that The Hangover Part III is better and worse than Part II?

Coming in a distant second is The Hangover Part III. With the previous entry getting poor reviews and being too much like the first Hangover, one would expect that writer/director Todd Phillips would right a wrong with the final entry in the series. Sadly, Part III is a case where it is better and worst than The Hangover Part II. That may sound weird, but stay with me here. It’s better because it doesn’t follow the same formula. But it’s worse because it seems so removed from being a comedy. While laughs do exist, they vary depending on how well you value the characters and their actions.

What is a bigger mystery is how the hell did this film cost $100 million to make. And can the sequel officially have Hangover in the title if it doesn’t include a hangover at some point in the film? And if the advertisements before the comedy are any indication, The Hangover Part III will quickly be forgotten, only to be replaced by the likes of The Internship (we’re going to party like it’s 2004!), The Heat and We’re the Millers.

Despite underperforming its opening weekend, Star Trek Into Darkness held well even against stiffer competition looking to eat into the same demographic. In a month’s time it will vault over $200 million. Not a bad figure at all. However, Paramount needs to think long and hard on what direction it wants to push the series. With J.J. Abrams exiting the director’s chair for Star Wars, the suits better be drafting a shortlist of directors in hopes of having a sequel to go sometime in late 2015 or Summer 2016.

Placing third this weekend was newcomer Epic. It’s the first mainstream family film to grace theaters in more than ten weeks. The film it hoped to replace as the big family opener was The Croods, a computer-animated release that is celebrating its tenth weekend in the top 10. Epic from Blue Sky Studios, the team responsible for endless Ice Age sequels and Rio and its upcoming sequel, failed to register with kid audiences. Poor marketing and worst title didn’t help matters. Seriously, the ads failed to communicate what exactly the film was about. Factor the stunt vocal casting of musicians Beyonce Knowles, Steven Tyler and Pitbull and head-scratching is expected. Like your kids know who Aerosmith is, anyways.

Iron Man 3 continues to do gonzo business after kicking off the summer in grand fashion. Even with big blockbusters opening weekly it has managed to stay afloat. Granted, the success of The Avengers and its 3D boosted numbers helped its bottom line, but it’s hard to argue its second-biggest opening in box office history. What I’m wondering is how Thor: The Dark World will fare later this year. There was some complaint that IM3 didn’t help set-up the Guardians of the Galaxy movie for Marvel Studios. I think that will be rectified with Thor.

Filing under whodathunk is the success Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby is having in theaters. This one could have easily been a dud upon release, but it has played its counterprogramming card quite well. Chalk that up to the ladies who are tired of hanging out with their significant others as they watch space invaders and iron thingies. For those that doubt Leonardo DiCaprio’s as a draw, the $114 million domestic gross for Gatsby is proof that this once growing pain can get audiences to spend money if the story and material is something to their liking.

Outside of the double-digit earnings of the top six, the rest of the field were competing over a few millions. Mud managed to have relevancy in its third week in the top 10, outgrossing the baseball drama 42, which finally made it to $90 million over the weekend. Rounding out the top ten were spring holdovers The Croods and Oblivion.

Looking at independent releases, the biggest one of note is Before Midnight. Playing at five locations in NY and LA it grossed $274k. Surprisingly, the Focus Features doc We Steal Secrets: The Story Of WikiLeaks had a softer debut, earning $29k at four locations. Expanding from four theaters to 60 locations, Frances Ha had quite the jump in attendance and box office as it had a strong $612k weekend.

As for what’s on tap this weekend, we have two big debuts: the ensemble caper Now You See Me and Will Smith’s After Earth. I have a sneaking suspicion that Fast & Furious 6 will be able to repeat, and I base that on Smith’s performance of late as a draw. Needless to say Sony Pictures has been smart in its advertising of the sci-fi pic by not mentioning M. Night Shyamalan’s name.


Weekend Box-Office Top Ten for May 24 – May 26, 2013

1. Fast & Furious 6 (Universal) – $98.5 MILLION

2. The Hangover Part III (Warner Bros.) – $42.4 MILLION ($54.2 mil. cume)

3. Star Trek: Into Darkness (Paramount) – $38 MILLION ($146.8 mil. cume)

4. Epic (Fox) – $34.2 MILLION

5. Iron Man 3 (Disney) – $19.4 MILLION ($367.5 mil. cume)

6. The Great Gatsby (Warner Bros.) – $13.7 MILLION ($114.4 mil. cume)

7. Mud (Roadside Attractions) – $1.92 MILLION ($14.5 mil. cume)

8. 42 (Warner Bros.) – $1.24 MILLION ($91.0 mil. cume)

9. The Croods (Fox/DreamWorks Animation) – $1.21 MILLION ($179.2 mil. cume)

10. Oblivion (Universal) – $815K ($87.2 mil. cume)

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