"Fast Five" won the box-office race over the weekend and sped through several records in the process. The ensemble action flick's estimated $83.6 million opening was not only the best yet for the "Fast and Furious" franchise but the biggest opening of 2011 thus far (sorry, "Rio"), the largest in Universal Pictures history (beating "The Lost World: Jurassic Park") and the third-highest opening outside of the holiday or summer seasons. Overall, "Fast Five" gave the box office a 52 percent boost.
Co-producer and star Vin Diesel can also celebrate the movie's solid reviews. Set in Rio and uniting stars from the previous films for a heist story a bit removed from the franchise's street-racing roots, "Fast Five" is the first in the series to win over critics. Each previous "Fast and Furious" movie, including the 2001 original, was overwhelmingly panned, but "Fast Five" boasted a 79 percent positive critical rating on movie review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes at press time.
"Fast Five" clearly benefited from its ethnically diverse cast — which includes Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Tyrese Gibson, and Chris "Ludacris" Bridges — as well as its international setting. It made $45.3 million overseas, and in the U.S., the mostly male audience was 35 percent white, 33 percent Hispanic, 19 percent African-American and 9 percent Asian, according to Universal.
It should be noted that with adjustments for inflation, "Fast Five" would fall behind "The Lost World," and the movie will soon face some stiff competition from Marvel's "Thor," which it's already battling overseas. But its debut is great news for the movie business and for Universal, which, as anyone who stuck around for the closing credits teaser scene knows, plans at least one more sequel.
Disney's "Prom," meanwhile, delivered only $5 million in its first weekend in theaters to land at #5 on the box-office tally. Made for an estimated $8 million with a cast of relative unknowns, it's not a huge disaster for the studio, but it certainly could have done better.
The animated "Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil" debuted just behind "Prom" at #6 with $4.1 million. Hayden Panettiere replaced Anne Hathaway, who led the cast of 2006's "Hoodwinked!"
Hathaway made a wise career choice when she took on a voice role in "Rio." The animated movie from the makers of "Ice Age" crossed the $100 million mark in its second week of release, making another $14.4 million towards its $103.6 million total to land at #2 at the box office.
Also in the top five during a second weekend of release: "Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family" at #3 with $10 million for a $41 million total and "Water for Elephants" at #4 with $9.1 million for a $32.2 million total. The comic book-based "Dylan Dog: Dead of Night" opened in limited release and grossed just $885,500 in 875 theaters. It sits at just 7 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
Next weekend's new releases include "Thor" and romantic comedy "Something Borrowed." Mel Gibson's "The Beaver," co-starring and directed by Jodie Foster, will also hit theaters.
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