'Fast 6' drives record-breaking box-office haul
This film publicity image released by Universal Pictures shows Dwayne Johnson , left, Vin Diesel, center, and Paul Walker in a scene from "Fast & Furious 6." (AP Photo/Universal Pictures, Giles Keyte)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — "Fast & Furious 6" raced to the top of a record-breaking weekend at North American movie theaters, and the sixth installment in the street-racing franchise also delivered a turbo-charged performance overseas.
The film debuted atop the holiday weekend box office, collecting $117 million domestically and $158 million internationally — the biggest opening yet for a Universal Pictures release.
Ticket tallies over the four-day weekend also set a Memorial Day record with $314.2 million.
"This just obliterated the 2011 record, which was $276.75 million," said box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian of Hollywood.com.
More than a third of the take belonged to "Fast & Furious 6" which stars Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez and Dwayne Johnson, along with an international supporting cast. The film follows the muscle-car crew as they join with police in a worldwide hunt for a terrorist, battling a plane and a tank along the way.
"It's amazing how this franchise was considered all but dead after the third film, but the filmmakers and the studio did a great job of convincing the original cast members to come back, giving it a different feel and really expanding its scope," said Dave Karger, chief correspondent for movie site Fandango.com.
The film's international cast and settings also contributed to its appeal.
"It's no coincidence that the movie takes place overseas," Karger said. "That was, I'm sure, a very calculated decision."
Nikki Rocco, Universal's head of distribution, attributes the success of "Fast 6" to its broadened scope.
"It's so much more than what it was," she said. "You have to give credit to all of us and the filmmakers for taking it to the next level."
Though a proven box-office winner, with its six films cumulatively collecting $1.9 billion so far, the "Fast & Furious" series hasn't quite reached the level of other powerhouse action franchises such as "Harry Potter," ''Transformers" and "Iron Man." The five Potter films have earned $7.7 billion worldwide. The three Transformers films have a worldwide gross of $2.67 billion. The third "Iron Man" film was released last month, and the franchise has claimed $2.36 billion worldwide so far.
Yet Karger notes the success of "Fast & Furious" is "pretty remarkable" considering the franchise was "kind of created out of thin air 12 years ago."
A recent Fandango survey shows that 93 percent of "Fast 6" ticket buyers are already anticipating the seventh installment, set to star Jason Statham.
The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Monday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Tuesday by Hollywood.com, are:
1."Fast & Furious 6," Universal, $117,036,995, 3,658 locations, $26,620 average, $117,036,995, one week.
2."The Hangover Part III," Warner Bros., $50,262,366, 3,555 locations, $11,722 average, $62,051,829, one week.
3."Star Trek: Into Darkness," Paramount, $47,187,313, 3,907 locations, $9,545 average, $83,701,981, two weeks.
4."Epic," Fox, $42,820,971, 3,882 locations, $8,638 average, $42,820,971, one week.
5."Iron Man 3," Disney, $24,693,407, 3,424 locations, $5,644 average, $337,661,977, four weeks.