Box-office reporters had their headlines cut out for them this weekend. Depending on which variation one came across, “Fast & Furious 6″ lapped, raced, fueled, shifted, pulled ahead or (perhaps cleverest of all) went on a “box-office joy ride” over Memorial Day weekend.
However it was phrased, one thing was clear: “Fast & Furious 6″ opened at #1 during the biggest Memorial Day Weekend in box-office history. Universal had their largest debut ever with the latest installment in the action franchise, collecting $96.7 million in three days toward an incredibly strong $120 million total since showings began Thursday evening. Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson easily defeated “The Hangover III,” which underperformed with a $63 million opening since Wednesday night. “The Hangover Part II” made $135 million during a similar timeframe in 2011.
Last weekend’s #1 film, “Star Trek Into Darkness,” was #3 with $47 million over the weekend for a $155.8 million total. Marvel mega-movie “Iron Man 3″ rounded out the top five as it crossed the $372 million mark domestically. The follow-up to “Marvel’s The Avengers” is now the fifth biggest movie of all time worldwide, boasting $1.14 billion in total receipts. Only “Avatar,” “Titanic,” “The Avengers” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2″ stand in front of shellhead’s latest solo adventure.
Meanwhile, the first kid-friendly film since “The Croods” (which shocked the box-office with a $44.7 million debut in March)) landed in the #4 spot. Featuring the voices of Beyonce, Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson and Amanda Seyfried (among others), “Epic” opened with $42.6 million over the four-day weekend. It was the lowest debut for Blue Sky Productions, the company behind the “Ice Age” series.
The combined firepower of “Fast & Furious 6,” “The Hangover III,” “Star Trek Into Darkness,” “Epic,” “Iron Man 3″ and “The Great Gatsby” (which has now made almost $188 million domestically) pushed the overall box-office to $316 million, according to Hollywood.com. That was enough to beat the previous Memorial Day weekend record holder, 2011, which made $278.6 million.
Boasting a CinemaScore of “A,” “Fast & Furious” had the biggest all-time opening in United Arab Emirates and Argentina while generating a ton of cash in the U.K. (where it opened last weekend), Russia and Mexico.
Even as “Fast & Furious” generated increasingly bigger returns (“Fast & Furious 7″ is already scheduled for next year), another major franchise stumbled hard. “The Hangover III” followed in the footsteps of comedy threequel flops like “Porky’s Revenge,” “Little Fockers,” “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son,” “Friday After Next,” “Beverly Hills Cop 3″ and “Meatballs. 3.” With rare exceptions, like “Christmas Vacation,” cinephiles seem to agree that comedy threequels are cursed.
“Old School” writer/director Todd Phillips had a surprise hit with “The Hangover” in 2009, which benefited from strong word-of-mouth and a star-making performance from standup comic and onetime VH1 host Zach Galifianakis. Audiences rushed out to see the sequel two years ago, but bad reviews and word-of-mouth dampened interest in “The Hangover III.” Going into the weekend, industry analysts predicted roughly $20 million more in receipts than what the “wolf pack” ended up making.
“The Hangover III” was billed as the last in the series, which Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Galifianakis and Phillips recently confirmed to MTV News. “You just realize that this is the story that we wanted to tell,” Phillips said. “This feels like a completion of our trilogy that’s really about friendship and mayhem put together. It just feels like the right thing.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “Fast & Furious 6.”