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'Fast Five': Paul Walker-Vin Diesel Action Franchise Biggest Universal Opening?

Jordana Brewster, Fast Five
Jordana Brewster, Fast Five

May 6

Justin Lin's Fast Five, starring Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, and Jordana Brewster, added $4.11 million on Thursday, May 5, at the North American box office, according to Box Office Mojo.

With Kenneth Branagh's arriving this weekend – it has already earned an estimated $3.3 million at midnight screenings – Fast Five's days at the top of the North American box office chart are over. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, and Tom Hiddleston, Thor is expected to collect about $70 million by Sunday evening. Fast Five's take should hover around $35m-$45 million.

Surprisingly, the Robert Pattinson-Reese Witherspoon-Christoph Waltz circus drama Water for Elephants posted the biggest attendance drop on Thursday, a really not-too-bad down 12 percent, scoring $790k.

Generally, Thursdays are “up” days at the U.S. and Canada box office, but yesterday only one top-twelve movie posted attendance gains: African Cats, which was up a solid 22 percent. Perhaps the usual Thursday moviegoers opted instead to go get drunk on Margaritas for People at their neighborhood dive. Hey, it was Cinco de Mayo!

Also on Thursday, Carlos Saldanha's Rio, featuring the voices of Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway, drew $586,000 at no. 3.

At no. 4, Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family, featuring Perry, Loretta Devine, Isaiah Mustafa, and Bow Wow, brought in $438,000. It was followed by Alastair Fothergill-Keith Scholey's African Cats with $345,000 at no. 5.

Next in line were Cate Blanchett-Saoirse Ronan's Hanna with $197k and Jake Gyllenhaal-Michelle Monaghan's Source Code with $191,000 at no. 7.

AnnaSophia Robb's Soul Surfer pulled in $178,000 at no. 8.

Rounding out the top twelve were Glenn Close-Hayden Panettiere's Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil with $161,000, Patrick Wilson-Rose Byrne's Insidious with $151,146, Wes Craven-Courteney Cox's Scream 4 with $151,123, Aimee Teegarden-Thomas McDonell's Prom with $141,000.

Among the top-twelve movies Fast Five had the highest per-theater average, $1,130 – once again more than 20 times that of the lowest average, Prom's $52.

Also among the top twelve, Water for Elephants posted the highest Wednesday-to-Thursday drop-off rate, down 12 percent; Soul Surfer posted the lowest, down 1 percent. As mentioned above, African Cats was the only movie to post attendance gains, up 22 percent.

Photo: Fast Five (Universal Pictures)

May 5

Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Fast Five
Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Fast Five

Fast Five, starring Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, and Jordana Brewster, added $4.62 million on Wednesday, May 4, at the North American box office, according to Box Office Mojo. Despite a 25 percent drop from Tuesday, the Justin Lin-directed action flick passed the $100 million milestone on its sixth day out. Total: $103.21 million. For comparison's sake: two years ago, Fast & Furious passed the $100 million milestone on Day 11, a Saturday.

As usual, every single top-twelve movie was down on Wednesday, most shedding between 12 percent and 17 percent of their Tuesday take.

Still performing well at no. 2, the Robert Pattinson-Reese Witherspoon-Christoph Waltz circus drama Water for Elephants scored $904k (-15 percent). A curiosity: though behind Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family these past two weekends, yesterday Water for Elephants collected nearly twice as much revenue as Perry's comedy.

Carlos Saldanha's Rio, featuring the voices of Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway, drew $641,000.

At no. 4, Madea's Big Happy Family, featuring Tyler Perry, Loretta Devine, Isaiah Mustafa, and Bow Wow, brought in $457,000. It was followed by Alastair Fothergill-Keith Scholey's African Cats with $282,000 at no. 5.

Next in line were Cate Blanchett-Saoirse Ronan's Hanna with $207,000, up one spot at no. 6, and Jake Gyllenhaal-Michelle Monaghan's Source Code with $200,000, down one spot at no. 7 – thus switching places from Tuesday.

AnnaSophia Robb's Soul Surfer pulled in $180,000, up one spot at no. 8.

Rounding out the top twelve were Glenn Close-Hayden Panettiere's Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil with $178,000, Wes Craven-Courteney Cox's Scream 4 with $171,000, Patrick Wilson-Rose Byrne's Insidious with $160,000, Aimee Teegarden-Thomas McDonell's Prom with $157,000.

Among the top-twelve movies Fast Five had the highest per-theater average, $1,270 – more than 20 times that of the lowest average, Prom's $58.

Also among the top twelve, Fast Five posted the highest Tuesday-to-Wednesday drop-off rate, down 25 percent; African Cats posted the lowest, down 12 percent.

Photo: Fast Five (Universal Pictures)

May 4

Robert Pattinson as Jacob, Water for Elephants

Starring Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, and Jordana Brewster, Justin Lin's Rio-set actioner Fast Five added $6.15 million on Tuesday, May 3, at the North American box office, according to Box Office Mojo. Fast Five will be passing the $100 million milestone sometime today. Tuesday cume: $98.58 million. (Image: Robert Pattinson as Jacob, Water for Elephants.)

Holding on at no. 2, the Robert Pattinson-Reese Witherspoon-Christoph Waltz period romantic drama Water for Elephants scored $1.05 million after soaring 35 percent from Monday, the second-highest increase of the day (after African Cats' 52 percent jump).

As I mentioned yesterday, Water for Elephants has been performing relatively well on weekdays. In fact, its $1.05 million Tuesday take brought Francis Lawrence's film back above the $1m-per-day mark. Domestic total after 12 days: $34.32 million, which is more than the total box office gross of Reese Witherspoon's previous vehicle, How Do You Know ($30m), and close to twice what Robert Pattinson's Remember Me earned early last year ($19m).

Carlos Saldanha's Rio, featuring the voices of Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway, collected $770,000, up 12 percent.

Tuesdays are “up” days at the U.S. and Canada box office. Revenues of the top ten films were up 7 percent compared to Monday, and, thanks to Fast Five, they were 16 percent higher than the previous Tuesday.

Fast Five, the only top-ten movie to be down on Tuesday (a minuscule down 1 percent), accounted for 61 percent of the total earned by the top ten.

At no. 4, Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family, featuring Perry, Loretta Devine, Isaiah Mustafa, and Bow Wow, brought in $574,000. It was followed by Alastair Fothergill-Keith Scholey's African Cats with $321,000 at no. 5.

Next in line were Jake Gyllenhaal-Michelle Monaghan's Source Code with $239,000, up one spot at no. 6, and Cate Blanchett-Saoirse Ronan's Hanna with $237,000, down one spot at no. 7.

Wes Craven's Scream 4, featuring Neve Campbell and Courteney Cox, pulled in $225,000 at no. 8.

Rounding out the top twelve were AnnaSophia Robb's Soul Surfer with $211,000, Glenn Close-Hayden Panettiere's Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil with $210,000, Aimee Teegarden-Thomas McDonell's Prom with $208,000, Patrick Wilson-Rose Byrne's Insidious with $184,000.

Among the top-twelve movies Fast Five once again had by far the highest per-theater average, $1,690. Prom had the lowest, $76.

Also among the top twelve, African Cats posted the highest Monday-to-Tuesday attendance increase, up 52 percent; Madea's Big Happy Family posted the lowest, up 5 percent. As mentioned above, Fast Five was the only movie to be down, down 1 percent.

Robert Pattinson Water for Elephants photo: David James / 20th Century Fox / Regency.

May 3

Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Fast Five
Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Fast Five

Starring Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel, and Jordana Brewster, Justin Lin's Fast Five grossed a solid $6.23 million on Monday, May 2, at the North American box office according to Box Office Mojo.

Up two spots at no. 2, Robert Pattinson-Reese Witherspoon-Christoph Waltz's Water for Elephants scored $784,000. As an adult drama, Water for Elephants has been doing relatively well on weekdays. Even so, it fell below the $1m-per-day mark for the first time on its eleventh day out.

Carlos Saldanha's Rio, featuring the voices of Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway, collected $688,000, down one spot at no. 3.

Down one spot at no. 4, Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family, featuring Perry, Loretta Devine, Isaiah Mustafa, and Bow Wow, earned $544,000.

Up a surprising six spots, Alastair Fothergill-Keith Scholey's African Cats was next with $211,000 at no. 5. It was followed by Cate Blanchett-Saoirse Ronan's Hanna with $203,000, also up six spots at no. 6.

Next in line were Jake Gyllenhaal-Michelle Monaghan's Source Code with $182,000, up three spots at no.7, and Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil with $175,000, down two spots at no. 8. Directed by Mike Tisa, Hoodwinked Too features the voices of Glenn Close, Hayden Panettiere, Patrick Warburton, Joan Cusack, Martin Short, and others.

Rounding out the top twelve were Wes Craven's Scream 4, back among the top twelve with $174,000; Patrick Wilson-Rose Byrne's Insidious with $167,000, down two spots at no. 10; AnnaSophia Robb's Soul Surfer with $166,000, down four spots at no. 11; and Aimee Teegarden-Thomas McDonell's Prom with $155,000, down 7 spots at no. 12 on its fourth day out.

Gone from the top twelve on Monday was James Marsden-Russell Brand's Hop.

Among the top-twelve movies Fast Five had by far the highest per-theater average, $1,710. Prom had the lowest, $57.

Also among the top twelve, Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil posted the highest Sunday-to-Monday drop-off rate, down 86 percent; Scream 4 posted the lowest, down 64 percent.

Photo: Fast Five (Universal Pictures)

May 2

Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Fast Five
Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Fast Five

Starring Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster, and Dwayne Johnson, Justin Lin's Fast Five grossed $86.19 million – about $2.5 million more than Sunday estimates – this past weekend (April 29-May 1) at the North American box office, including $3.8 million from Thursday midnight screenings, according to actuals found at Box Office Mojo.

Ignoring higher ticket prices, Fast Five had Universal's biggest three-day debut weekend ever. Taking that minor detail into account, however, we see that Steven Spielberg's The Lost World: Jurassic Park, which opened with $72.13 million in late May 1997, would have taken in approximately $126 million today.

Fast Five wasn't the only movie with – something unusual – “deflated” Sunday estimates. Both Carlos Saldanha's Rio and the Robert Pattinson-Reese Witherspoon-Christoph Waltz romantic drama Water for Elephants performed better than originally thought.

Rio, featuring the voices of Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway, collected $14.78 million ($400,000 more than estimated). The 3D animated feature passed the $100 million milestone on Sunday, reaching a cume of $104.01 million.

At no. 3, Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family, featuring Perry, Loretta Devine, Isaiah Mustafa, and Bow Wow, earned $9.86 million.

At no. 4, Francis Lawrence's Water for Elephants scored $9.34 million ($200,000 more than estimated). It was followed by Disney's Prom with only $4.71 million ($250,000 less than estimated), averaging a paltry $1,726 per theater. Directed by Joe Nussbaum, Prom features Aimee Teegarden and Thomas McDonell.

At no. 6, new entry Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil drew a mere $4.1 million, averaging $1,640 per site. Directed by Mike Tisa, Hoodwinked Too features the voices of Glenn Close, Hayden Panettiere, Patrick Warburton, Joan Cusack, Martin Short, and others.

Next in line were AnnaSophia Robb's Soul Surfer with $3.36 million at no. 7 and Patrick Wilson-Rose Byrne's Insidious with $2.689 million at no. 8.

Rounding out the top twelve were James Marsden-Russell Brand's Hop with $2.683 million, Jake Gyllenhaal-Michelle Monaghan's Source Code with $2.5 million, Alastair Fothergill-Keith Scholey's African Cats with $2.4 million, Cate Blanchett-Saoirse Ronan's Hanna with $2.25 million.

Another newcomer that didn't fare well: Dylan Dog: Dead of the Night, starring Brandon Routh, which brought in $754,000 at 875 theaters, averaging a dismal $863 per theater.

Gone from the top twelve were Wes Craven's Scream 4, Russell Brand-Helen Mirren's Arthur, and Bradley Cooper-Abbie Cornish's Limitless.

Among the top-twelve movies Fast Five had by far the highest per-theater average, $23,655. Hop had the lowest, $845.

Also among the top twelve (barring newcomers Fast Five, Prom, and Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil), Hop posted the highest weekend-to-weekend drop-off rate, down 78 percent; Soul Surfer posted the lowest, down 38 percent.

Photo: Fast Five (Universal Pictures)

May 1 afternoon

The Paul Walker-Vin Diesel-Dwayne Johnson actioner Fast Five opened above expectations in North America this weekend, earning an estimated $83.6 million. Overseas, however, the victor this Labor Day weekend was Kenneth Branagh's Thor.

Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, and Tom Hiddleston, Thor, after trailing Fast Five in places like Australia and Germany, went on to collect $83 million in 56 markets according to studio estimates found in The Hollywood Reporter. Fast Five, which grossed $45.3 million, is screening in 14 territories at less than half Thor's theater count.

Also, Fast Five is on its second weekend in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and South Korea. Thor's sole major market last weekend was Australia.

Top Thor markets this weekend were the United Kingdom and Ireland with $9 million (over five days), France with $8.1 million, and South Korea with $5.7 million. Its $308k take in Vietnam is, according to Paramount, the three-day debut-weekend record for that country.

Thor's international cume to date is $93 million. Fast Five's international cume is $81.4 million, after adding $11.5 million in Russia and $10.2 million in Germany this week. According to Universal, Fast Five had Turkey's biggest opening ever, $900,000. (Remember to always take those “biggest ever” claims with a grain of salt. Thanks to higher ticket prices and currency fluctuations, bigger box office doesn't necessarily mean more tickets sold.)

Thor opens in China, the United States, and Canada by next weekend, while Fast Five debuts in 45 markets this week, including France, Italy, Brazil and Mexico. Fast Five's worldwide cume stands at $165.03 million.

Photo: Thor (Zade Rosenthal / Marvel / Paramount Pictures)

Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon in Francis Lawrence's Water for Elephants

At no. 3, Carlos Saldanha's Rio, featuring the voices of Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway, added $31.7 million in 67 countries according to studio estimates found in The Hollywood Reporter. Top markets were France (where it was up more than 30 percent from last weekend, as per distributor Fox), Brazil, and Mexico.

Internationally, Rio has scored $260.7 million, $36 million of which in Brazil alone. Worldwide total: $364.32 million, which means Rio will remain 2011's biggest box office hit for at least another week or two.

Apart from Fast Five and Rio, the only other movies on North America's top-twelve chart that have had their overseas take (if any) tallied are:

  • Reese Witherspoon-Robert Pattinson-Christoph Waltz's Water for Elephants with an $8.2 million international cume, including $1.9 million in Germany. Worldwide: $40.26 million.
  • Russell Brand-James Marsden's Hop with a $58.4 million cume. Worldwide: $163.67 million.
  • Jake Gyllenhaal-Michelle Monaghan's Source Code with a $35 million cume. Worldwide: $83.9 million.

Last year, Robert Pattinson's Remember Me went on to gross $36 million overseas, 66 percent of its $56.03 million worldwide take. Since the US dollar is weaker now than it was last year, non-American revenues will be worth more once converted to US dollars.

Reese Witherspoon's prior effort, How Do You Know, went on to earn only $17.49 million overseas up to March '11.

Photo: Water for Elephants (David James / 20th Century Fox / Regency)

May 1 morning

Paul Walker, Fast Five
Paul Walker, Fast Five

Starring Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster, and Dwayne Johnson, Justin Lin's Fast Five is expected to gross $83.6 million this weekend (April 29-May 1) at 3,644 locations, including 244 IMAX theaters, according to Deadline.com, citing official studio estimates. The Fast Five total, which translates into a whopping $22,941 per-theater average, also includes $3.8 million from Thursday midnight screenings.

Not taking inflation and higher IMAX ticket prices into account, this marks April's biggest opening ever, beating Fast & Furious' $71 million two years ago (or about $76 million today).

Once again, totally ignoring higher ticket prices, Fast Five's debut marks Universal's biggest domestic opening ever. (That's the studio behind recent expensive flops such as Paul Greengrass-Matt Damon's Green Zone and Anthony Hopkins-Benicio Del Toro's The Wolfman.) The previous record holder was another sequel, Steven Spielberg's The Lost World: Jurassic Park, which opened to the tune of $72.13 million in late May 1997. But if one bothers to take inflation into account – as one should – The Lost World pulled in approximately $126 million in 2011 dollars.* Which makes Fast Five's record look considerably less record breaking.

Of course, Fast Five had the biggest 2011 opening to date, earning more than the combined debut-weekend grosses of Rio and Rango, $39.22 million and $38.07 million, respectively. Inflation doesn't play a role here, though Rio had the advantage of earning about 55 percent of its take at costlier 3D theaters.

And finally, Fast Five helped to make the last weekend of April 2011 beat last year's by 52 percent. Whether this sudden domestic box office momentum will continue until December 31, who can tell?

Having said that, one doesn't need a crystal ball to predict Furious Six in the not too distant future. Same plot, same characters, same action, same stunts, same weapons, different setting.

* Using Box Office Mojo's ticket-price inflation ratio, which may be far from perfect but it does help to illustrate the actual success – number of tickets sold – of a particular movie, regardless of when it was released.

Photo: Fast Five (Universal Pictures)

Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, Water for Elephants

First of all, I should note that all but one movie on the top-twelve chart – AnnaSophia Robb's Soul Surfer was the exception – is expected to be down more than 45 percent compared to Easter weekend. That's likely because of better-than-usual figures on the Friday preceding Easter, as numerous US schools were closed that day, whether for religious reasons or merely for spring break.

The good box office news – if estimates are correct – is that on Saturday business picked up for last week's two major newcomers, Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family (+45 percent compared to Friday) and the Robert Pattinson-Reese Witherspoon-Christoph Waltz romantic drama Water for Elephants (+37 percent).

At no. 2 after Justin Lin's runaway hit Fast Five, Carlos Saldanha's Rio, featuring the voices of Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway, is expected to collect $14.4 million (down 45 percent) in North America this weekend (April 29-May 1), according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo.

Rio will also be passing the $100 million milestone on Sunday, reaching a cume of $103.62 million. Cost: $90 million.

At no. 3, Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family, featuring Perry, Loretta Devine, Isaiah Mustafa, and Bow Wow, is expected to earn $10.05 million. Total: $41.08 million. Cost: $25 million.

Madea's Big Happy Family should be down about 60 percent on its second weekend, much like Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too, I Can Do Bad All By Myself, For Colored Girls (actually down 66 percent), and Madea Goes to Jail.

At no. 4, Francis Lawrence's Water for Elephants, should score $9.12 million (down 46 percent). Total: $32.26 million. Cost: $38m-$40 million.

Disney's Prom opened at no. 5, with only $5 million at 2,730 locations, averaging a paltry $1,832 per theater. Directed by Joe Nussbaum, Prom features Aimee Teegarden and Thomas McDonell.

Photo: Water for Elephants (David James / 20th Century Fox / Regency)

Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil, Glenn Close, Granny
Glenn Close voices Granny, Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil

At no. 6, new entry Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil should gross a mere $4.14 million in North America this weekend (April 29-May 1), averaging $1,653 per site at 2,505 locations according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo.

Directed by Mike Tisa, Hoodwinked Too features the voices of Glenn Close, Hayden Panettiere, Patrick Warburton, Joan Cusack, Martin Short, and others.

Hoodwinked Too is The Weinstein Company's third flop in a row, following Scream 4 and the censored PG-13 version of The King's Speech.

Next in line was Sean McNamara's Soul Surfer with $3.3 million (down 39 percent) at no. 7. Total: $33.77 million. Cost: $18 million.

Soul Surfer was followed by Patrick Wilson-Rose Byrne's Insidious with $2.68 million (down 48 percent) at no. 8. Total: $48.3 million. Cost: $1.5 million (in addition to $20m+ in marketing expenses). Insidious should be crossing the $50 million mark sometime next week.

Rounding out the top twelve were:

  • James Marsden-Russell Brand's Hop with $2.55 million (down 79 percent). Total: $105.27 million. Cost: $63 million.
  • Jake Gyllenhaal-Michelle Monaghan's Source Code with $2.53 million (down 50 percent). Total: $48.9 million. Cost: $32 million. Source Code should be passing the $50 million milestone sometime next week.
  • Alastair Fothergill-Keith Scholey's African Cats with $2.33 million (down 61 percent). Total: $10.6 million.
  • Cate Blanchett-Saoirse Ronan's Hanna with $2.2 million (down 58.5 percent). Total: $35.9 million. Cost: $30 million.

Bear in mind that when actuals are released on Monday, there'll likely be some shuffling around between slots 8 and 12 on the list, as estimates for those films are quite close.

Gone from the top twelve were Wes Craven's Scream 4, Russell Brand-Helen Mirren's Arthur, and Bradley Cooper-Abbie Cornish's Limitless.

Another newcomer that didn't fare well: Dylan Dog: Dead of the Night, starring Brandon Routh, which should bring in only $884,000 at 875 theaters.

Among the top-twelve movies Fast Five had the highest per-theater average, $22,950. Hop had the lowest, $805.

Also among the top twelve (barring newcomers Fast Five, Prom, and Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil), Hop, now that Easter is over (and after losing 440 sites), posted the highest weekend-to-weekend drop-off rate, down 79 percent; Soul Surfer posted the lowest, down 39 percent.

Photo: Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil (Kanbar Entertainment / The Weinstein Company)

April 30

Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Fast Five
Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson ready for some man-on-man action in Justin Lin's Fast Five

Rio has been bumped to second position, even though Rio de Janeiro remains at the top of the North American box office thanks to the $33.23 million (including $3.8 million at Thursday midnight screenings) earned by Justin Lin's Fast Five, which is partly set in Rio.

Starring Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster, and Dwayne Johnson, Fast Five averaged $9,120 at 3,644 locations, including 244 (costlier) IMAX theaters, as per studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo.

Fast Five has by far the biggest domestic opening of 2011 and the biggest April opening ever (unadjusted for inflation, higher IMAX prices), beating Fast & Furious's $30.6 million two years ago (about $32.7 million today). And then people complain that Hollywood studios have no imagination, recycling the same stories over and over again, while churning out one sequel after another. The success of Fast Five is the very reason for that business strategy: Audiences the world over flock to see the same crap over and over again.

Even the success of something like Inception – not a remake; not a sequel; not based on a comic-book character – was the direct result of Christopher Nolan's immense global following after both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, while James Cameron's Avatar, though not officially a remake, a sequel, or based on a comic-book character, might as well have been just that. Technologically innovative it may have been, but in terms of plot and character Avatar was a by-the-book effort. Not to mention the fact that the 3D gimmick helped to inflate its box office take tremendously.

But really, if you're investing in a movie what amounts to the national gross product of a small country, you'd be insane to take serious risks. In other words, blame the lack of originality in the vast majority of big-studio releases on braindead audiences, not the studios themselves.

Photo: Fast Five (Universal Pictures)

Aimee Teegarden, Thomas McDonell, Prom
Aimee Teegarden, Thomas McDonell in Justin Nussbaum's Prom

At no. 2 after Justin Lin's Fast Five, Carlos Saldanha's Rio, featuring the voices of Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, and George Lopez, collected $3.6 million (down 66 percent) according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo.

Rio should be passing the $100 million milestone on Sunday, or at the very latest on Monday.

At no. 3, Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family, featuring Perry, Loretta Devine, Isaiah Mustafa, and Bow Wow, earned $3.1 million, down a whopping down 70.5 percent compared to last Friday.

Down two spots (from Thursday) at no. 4, Francis Lawrence's Water for Elephants, starring Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, and Christoph Waltz, drew $2.92 million. The romantic period drama was down 58 percent.

The fact that holdovers such as Madea's Big Happy Family and Rio were down sharply from a week ago isn't a major surprise, partly because many schools were closed across the country last Friday. But since 70 percent of Water for Elephants' ticket buyers were reportedly over 25, the 58 percent Friday-to-Friday drop-off was surprisingly steep.

Obviously, the huge box office take of one movie (Fast Five) didn't do much good to the other films on the chart. If people were unable to get into a theater showing Fast Five, instead of hopping to Rio or joining Madea's Big Happy Family, they apparently opted to go eat at a fast-food joint or some such.

Another highly disappointing 2011 debut: Disney's Prom opened with only $1.85 million at no. 5. Screening at 2,730 locations, Prom's average was a dismal $678 per theater. Directed by Joe Nussbaum, Prom features Aimee Teegarden and Thomas McDonell.

And another: At no. 6, Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil grossed a mere $1.1 million, averaging a disastrous $439 per site at 2,505 locations. Directed by Mike Tisa, Hoodwinked Too features the voices of Glenn Close, Hayden Panettiere, Patrick Warburton, Joan Cusack, Martin Short, and others.

Next in line were AnnaSophia Robb's Soul Surfer with $1.02 million at no. 7 and Patrick Wilson-Rose Byrne's Insidious with $1 million at no. 8.

Rounding out the top twelve were Alastair Fothergill-Keith Scholey's African Cats with $961,000, Jake Gyllenhaal-Michelle Monaghan's Source Code with $810,000, Wes Craven's Scream 4 with $800,000, Cate Blanchett-Saoirse Ronan's Hanna with $685,000.

Gone from the top twelve on Friday were James Marsden-Russell Brand's Hop, Russell Brand-Helen Mirren's Arthur, Bradley Cooper-Abbie Cornish's Limitless.

Among the top-twelve movies Fast Five had the highest per-theater average, $9,120. Scream 4 had the lowest, $360.

Also among the top twelve (barring newcomers Fast Five, Prom, and Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil), Madea's Big Happy Family posted the highest Thursday-to-Friday attendance increase, up 199 percent; Hanna, after losing about 800 theaters, posted the lowest, up 60 percent.

Aimee Teegarden, Thomas McDonell Prom photo: Walt Disney Studios.

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Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Vin Diesel, Fast Five

Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Vin Diesel in Justin Lin's Fast Five (top); Robert Pattinson, Tai the Elephant, Reese Witherspoon in Francis Lawrence's Water for Elephants (bottom)

Fast Five grossing $80 million over the weekend (including the $3.8 million it earned at Thursday midnight screenings)?

That's a possibility according to Deadline.com, which reports that the Universal release collected an estimated $34 million in ticket sales on Friday. It's unclear whether or not that includes the take from the aforementioned midnight screenings. Pundits had been expecting Fast Five, which stars Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, and Dwayne Johnson, to open to the tune of $70-$75 million.

Deadline's Nikki Finke adds that Fast Five might reach $500 million worldwide by the end of its run: approximately $200 million in the United States and Canada; $300 million overseas. Fast Five opened in a handful of countries last weekend, and has expanded to other territories in the last couple of days. [Correction: definitely not by the end of its debut weekend as I had initially reported. Apologies for the utterly absurd error.]

According to the Los Angeles Times, Fast Five cost (officially) $125m; unofficially (and probably more accurately) $170 million. The fourth film in the series, Fast & Furious, cost $85 million and went on to gross $353 million worldwide ($198 million overseas). So, Fast Five's debut weekend in North America will surely be quite impressive; without the foreign market, however, such a huge-budgeted movie would never get made today. Certainly not on that scale.

After two weekends on top, Rio will end up in second place. (The city itself remains in first place thanks to Fast Five.) The 3D animated feature is expected to gross about $14.5 million, following an estimated $3.4 million on Friday.

The fact – well, if those early estimates are correct – that Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family was down 70 percent (earning $3.1m) compared to last Friday should come as no surprise. Perry's films have a tendency to plummet right after their first weekend. Still, Madea's Big Happy Family is expected to finish in third (with $9.6 million), ahead of the Robert Pattinson-Reese Witherspoon-Christoph Waltz romantic drama Water for Elephants. Now, that is a surprise.

Considering how well Water for Elephants has performed during this past week, it was down a steeper-than-expected 60 percent compared to last Friday. If Deadline's estimate is correct, Water for Elephants may end up with $8.1 million for the weekend – unless, that is, there's an attendance surge on Saturday.

Joe Nussbaum's Prom, featuring Aimee Teegarden and Thomas McDonell, opened with only $1.8 million on Friday. It's expected to reach $5.4 million by Sunday evening.

Remember, those are early, rough, unofficial estimates. Studio estimates for Friday will come out Saturday morning; weekend estimates on Sunday morning. Weekend actuals on Monday.

Photos: Fast Five (Universal Pictures); Water for Elephants (David James / 20th Century Fox / Regency)

April 29

Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Fast Five
Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Fast Five

Fast Five, directed by Justin Lin, and starring Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, and Dwayne Johnson, earned $3.8 million in Thursday midnight screenings at 1,132 locations, reports Brandon Gray at Box Office Mojo. Higher ticket prices likely helped Fast Five to boast Universal's biggest midnight opening ever.

Fast Five will have the last weekend of April for itself before it gets – at least somewhat – hammered by Kenneth Branagh-Chris Hemsworth-Natalie Portman's Thor next weekend.

Fast & Furious opened in early April '09 with $71 million, including $1.8 million at midnight screenings; Fast Five, including its midnight take, is expected to reach close to $75 million.

Overseas, Fast Five seems to be outperforming Thor: $2.2 million vs. $1.2 million in Germany on Thursday; $8.3 million vs. $5.8 million in Australia last weekend.

Up to April 24, Fast Five had grossed an estimated $24 million internationally; Thor's tally up to April 28 (though in fewer territories) is $23.3 million.

Photo: Fast Five (Universal Pictures)


         
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7 Comments to 'Fast Five': Paul Walker-Vin Diesel Action Franchise Biggest Universal Opening?

  1. Jinta Bilderberg

    Is that picture of R Pattinson and R Witherspoon supposed to be erotic…like she's thinking “Ummmm ….does he have..”

  2. Zac

    All those box-office figures are domestic only, as stated in the first paragraph. Cost reports are there as 'extra' information. (I do that every weekend.) And it's not in any way “inaccurate” to have that in the text.

    After all, I'm assuming readers understand that Hollywood movies make money overseas, via DVD sales, VOD, television rights, cable rights, toys, tie-ins, etc. both domestic and international.

  3. Sue

    Some of these figures are only domestic since they are just getting started Internationally. So it does no use to stick 'Cost' out there as its inaccurate to compare.

  4. Bridget Flynn

    I'm extremely happy to see WFE staying strong at #2! Robert Pattinson has shown he can play the quintessential leading man, giving a great performance with some of Hollywood's best, 2 academy award winning actors, Christof Waltz, and Reese Witherspoon. Although I am a huge Twilight fan, its wonderful to see R. Pattinson show another side of himself and flex some of that God-given talent. I thought the movie was very well done, and close to the book. Go,go go!

  5. Betty b

    Because of the talented cast and unique storyline WFE is proving it has “staying power”. Many said it WFE would be in the 6 or 7th place by now. Not!

    It's a movie the entire family can enjoy together :-)

    Thanks Zac

  6. zoey

    Your cavalier, flippant disregard for the innotive, ground-breaking Avatar is more sheep like than you claim the film itself is.

  7. footymad

    LOL u mad