By the time most film franchises reach their sixth installment, they’re running on fumes. In contrast, the Fast & Furious movies just keep getting, ahem, even faster—and richer—at the box office.
Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson and Co. injected the latest installment with a shot of cinematic nitrous oxide, propelling Fast & Furious 6 to a series-best opening of an estimated $96.8 million over the regular three-day weekend and $120.0 million with Monday’s Memorial Day estimates factored into the mix. With international numbers added in, the adrenaline-and-explosion infused actioner netted a whopping $317 million in its debut. Those figures were strong enough, in fact, to make Fast & Furious 6 Universal Pictures biggest-opening film ever, domestically and internationally. And Fast & Furious 6′s high-octane performance also contributed significantly to the domestic box office’s biggest-ever Memorial Day weekend.
Two other new releases staking out decidedly different territory performed relatively strongly as well. The Hangover Part III, which was perhaps not quite as hung over as the last two installments but still plenty problematic, nabbed an estimated $41.8 million over the three-day weekend, good enough for the No. 2 slot on the chart. That would be a pretty strong opening for an “ordinary” hard-R flick. But those figures were actually down by more than 50% compared to The Hangover Part II‘s much more potent $85.9 million three-day opening in May 2011, suggesting, perhaps, that audiences’ appetite for drunken excess just isn’t as strong as it is for automotive excess.
Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox’s animated tale Epic raked in $33.5 million—a reasonably strong performance for the animated film, and assuring it a No. 4 entry.
Slotting in on either side of Epic were the summer’s two heaviest hitters thus far. Star Trek Into Darkness beamed up another $37.3 million, falling from No. 1 to No. 3 in its second week of release. Meanwhile, Iron Man 3‘s $19.2 million was good enough to hang on to the No. 5 spot, bringing its domestic cume to a best-of-2013 $367.3 million domestically and a superhero-sized $1.14 billion with international markets figured in.
And if that action-oriented field of summer tent-pole contenders wasn’t big enough for you, next week Will Smith will toss his space helmet into the ring, too, in the M. Night Shyamalan-helmed sci-fi actioner After Earth.
Final figures update: 1. Fast & Furious 6, $97.4 million; 2. The Hangover Part III, $41.7 million; 3. Star Trek Into Darkness, $37.3 million; 4. Epic, $33.6 million; 5. Iron Man 3, $19.3 million.