Weekend Box Office (May 24 - 27, 2013)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Moviegoers gorged themselves on high-profile sequels powering the North American box office to a record-breaking Memorial Day frame with the top ten films grossing over $300M during the extended Friday-to-Monday long weekend. The marketplace expanded to incredible levels making for one of the five biggest overall box office weekends ever.

The busy frame was led by the high-octane opening of the action smash Fast & Furious 6 which generated the best debut in its 12-year franchise history with $117M over the four-day holiday frame, according to final studio figures. Starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and Dwayne Johnson, the latest PG-13 installment averaged a muscular $31,995 from 3,658 theaters with no help from any 3D gimmickry. Universal saw $97.4M during the Friday-to-Sunday portion.

Since Diesel's return to the popular series with 2009's Fast & Furious (the fourth pic), the opening weekends and final grosses have risen sharply with every new chapter. Producers know to add something new each time to keep customers interested. Instead of franchise fatigue, audiences have become even more excited and international audiences have been contributing more and more. The last film, Fast Five from April 2011, opened to $86.2M on its way to a $209.8M domestic final and $629M worldwide total - all franchise highs. Part 6 is now looking to beat all of those marks. The well-liked Five's good will is paying dividends now.

Three of the four biggest opening weekends in company history for Universal are from the last three Fast installments. So not only is this a critical franchise for the studio, it's also one that is still growing bigger which bodes well for the years to come.

From day one in June 2001, the series has invested in ethnically diverse casts which has broadened the consumer base. Sales from urban youth have always been key. And appeal has been strong with women too. This weekend's audience breakdown showed a 49% female crowd which is incredibly high for a macho action sequel. 40% is common. 57% were age 25 or older and 32% were Latino. Reviews were generally good and the CinemaScore grade for the $160M budgeted film was a solid A. The ending of the sixquel even sets up the new cast addition for part 7 which is already slated to open on July 11 next summer.

Overseas, Furious grossed a whopping $161.3M this weekend from 59 markets upping the cume to $197.3M including the U.K. which opened strong a week earlier. Worldwide is $314M and rising rapidly with many new franchise records being set. Australia is still to open in June followed by China and Japan in July. By the end of this week, the franchise six-pack will race past the $2 billion cumulative mark.

Suffering the opposite franchise trajectory was The Hangover Part III which opened in second place with $50.3M over the Friday-to-Monday period which was half of what its predecessor did over the same holiday weekend two years ago. Both sequels opened on the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend although III was moved from a Friday release just recently so not all fans knew it was available earlier. The new chapter grossed $62.1M from Thursday-to-Sunday, down 54% from II. The Friday-to-Sunday portion was $41.7M. Though a huge commercial blockbuster, the second part was widely criticized by audiences as being a lazy copy of the first film's plot and that prompted many to lose interest in a third entry.

Over four days, the Hangover finale averaged $14,138 from 3,555 locations. Part II was powered by the good will of the first Hangover pic from the summer of 2009 and bowed to a stellar $135M over five days. Part III may not even reach that amount by the end of its run. The 2011 film went on its way to $254.5M domestically and $581.5M worldwide. Reviews were once again negative on the latest sequel and audiences gave a lukewarm B grade from CinemaScore. Males made up 52% of the audience and 55% were over 25.

Overseas, Part III opened at number one in three markets - the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand - grossing $19M. Unlike domestic, most international markets will get a one week gap between the Hangover and Furious sequels with over 50 territories launching Part III next weekend.

Star Trek Into Darkness fell from its number one spot but held up well in its sophomore frame given the intense competition. The Friday-to-Sunday portion dropped 47% and the long four-day gross was $47.2M pushing the cume up to $156M. After opening below expectations, the Paramount release is benefiting from good word-of-mouth with a decline that was commendable for a sci-fi sequel. The domestic gross now has a chance of ending up in the vicinity of $225M (helped by 3D) which would be not far from the $257.7M of its predecessor. International rose to $102.1M and the worldwide take stands at $258M with major markets China and Korea to open next weekend. Those are the two highest-grossing overseas markets for another effects-heavy May actioner, Iron Man 3.

The animated adventure Epic did not fail and scored with family audiences opening to $42.8M from 3,882 theaters for a $11,031 four-day average. The PG-rated film had young kids all to itself and pulled in $33.5M over the three-day span. Studios have not been serving up enough options for families this year as Epic is the first animated film since March's The Croods which is now in its tenth weekend of release, and still in the top ten. Both were released by Fox and studio research showed that the audience was 57% female and 55% under 25.

Reviews were generally good for the leaf people pic and the A CinemaScore grade bodes well for the road ahead especially since the next kidpic doesn't arrive until June 21 with Pixar's Monsters University. Epic opened in 20 new international markets this weekend with $23.1M lifting the overseas cume to $44M and the early global take to $87M with 26 additional territories launching next weekend.

Dropping 46% (over the three-day portion) to fifth place was the year's biggest hit Iron Man 3 which pulled in $24.7M in its fourth weekend, over four days. The Marvel smash upped its cume to $372.8M putting it at number 22 on the list of All-Time Domestic Blockbusters right behind the $373.4M of 2004's Spider-Man 2. Disney's megahit is now the fifth biggest global blockbuster of all-time with a jaw-dropping $1.15 billion, 68% from international markets.

Leonardo DiCaprio scored the eighth $100M blockbuster of his career with The Great Gatsby which ranked sixth. The Warner Bros. pic grossed $17M, down 43%, giving the lavish film a solid $117.8M to date. Despite weak reviews and a lackluster audience score, Gatsby has been holding up well against all the competition in part due to an audience of mature women not as interested in the other major offerings. The global gross passed $200M this weekend.

The rest of the top ten featured films taking in small morsels. Indie hit Mud eased just 12% to $2.5M while losing some screens. The Roadside Attractions release has grossed $15.1M to date. Warner Bros. saw its baseball hit 42 take in $1.7M for a $91.5M cume.

With families flocking to a new toon, The Croods tumbled to $1.6M making for a total of $179.7M for Fox. The Tom Cruise sci-fi drama Oblivion took in $1M, down 64%, with a total tally of $87.5M for Universal. Worldwide sums are $566M and $267M, respectively.

The Ethan Hawke-Julie Delpy indie drama Before Midnight platformed to sensational results thanks to a built-in audience and stellar reviews. Sony Classics opened the pic in New York, Los Angeles, and Austin and grossed $305,975 over the long weekend from only five locations for a sizzling $61,195 average. Midnight expands out to about 30 total theaters next weekend.

The top ten films grossed $305.9M over the Friday-to-Monday span which was up a stunning 61% from last year when Men in Black 3 opened at number one with $69.3M; and up 13% from 2011's record holiday when The Hangover Part II debuted in the top spot with $103.4M.

Compared to four-day projections, Fast & Furious 6 opened well ahead of my $85M forecast while The Hangover Part III was on target with my $50M prediction. Epic bowed above my $37M projection.

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Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when After Earth and Now You See Me both open.

# Title May 24 - 27 May 17 - 19 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Fast & Furious 6 $ 117,036,995 3,658 1 $ 31,995 $ 117,036,995 Universal
2 The Hangover Part III 50,262,366 3,555 1 14,138 62,051,829 Warner Bros.
3 Star Trek Into Darkness 47,187,313 70,165,559 -32.7 3,907 2 12,078 156,013,879 Paramount
4 Epic 42,820,971 3,882 1 11,031 42,820,971 Fox
5 Iron Man 3 24,693,407 35,770,094 -31.0 3,424 4 7,212 372,775,931 Disney
6 The Great Gatsby 17,027,318 23,939,228 -28.9 3,090 3 5,510 117,754,209 Warner Bros.
7 Mud 2,508,660 2,229,546 12.5 712 5 3,523 15,115,957 Roadside Attr.
8 42 1,709,316 2,812,115 -39.2 915 7 1,868 91,513,766 Warner Bros.
9 The Croods 1,634,258 3,024,602 -46.0 1,008 10 1,621 179,657,546 Fox
10 Oblivion 1,038,730 2,337,050 -55.6 572 6 1,816 87,503,895 Universal
11 Oz the Great and Powerful 853,079 871,165 -2.1 401 12 2,127 232,416,130 Disney
12 Pain & Gain 787,933 3,237,689 -75.7 1,003 5 786 48,701,805 Paramount
13 Frances Ha 684,211 137,398 398.0 60 2 11,404 888,912 IFC
14 G.I. Joe: Retaliation 548,675 580,176 -5.4 346 9 1,586 121,196,700 Paramount
15 The Iceman 479,120 464,147 3.2 258 4 1,857 1,463,903 Millenium
16 Peeples 419,911 2,159,980 -80.6 485 3 866 8,896,276 Lionsgate
17 Escape From Planet Earth 336,059 244,552 37.4 346 15 971 56,039,400 Weinstein Co.
18 Before Midnight 305,975 5 1 61,195 305,975 Sony Classics
19 The Big Wedding 282,842 1,210,204 -76.6 265 5 1,067 21,139,318 Lionsgate
20 Love is All You Need 272,163 68,895 295.0 63 4 4,320 477,134 Sony Classics
Top 5 $ 282,001,052 $ 136,137,172 107.1
Top 10 305,919,334 146,886,067 108.3
Top 20 310,889,302 151,000,264 105.9
Top 20 vs. 2012 310,889,302 189,858,360 63.7

Last Updated: May 28, 2013 at 5:15PM ET

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