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Fast Five Takes the Easy Route to No. 1

The winner of the box office is should be no surprise this week, or the next 16 weekends for that matter. Each tentpole owns its release window with humble counterprogramming thrown in for kicks. That was the case for Fast Five. Justin Lin’s latest take on the series outdid estimates and grossed $83 million over the weekend and more than $3 million in midnight showings late Thursday. The fourth sequel surpassed its predecessors by a cool $13 million. Obviously heists are an improvement over Japanese auto tricks. With another $81 million in overseas tickets we can all look forward to a sixth addition to the franchise.

I won’t say the same for Prom or Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil. Those two did underwhelming business, especially the latter which was a long-delayed sequel. Neither of the counterprogramming offerings received much marketing, further adding insult to their injuries. However, none suffered more than “Dylan Dog.” Brandon Routh of Superman shame further embarrassed himself with a tiny horror comedy that opened at sixteenth place. Ouch. Life after a Bryan Singer flop sucks zombie guts.   

Rio and Hop both crossed the $100-million milestone. Animation is winning like Charlie Sheen. It seems these two and Rango are the biggest hits of the year thus far in this slow 2011. Despite that both Source Code and Insidious have slowly crept their way toward $50 million. In international news both Fast Five and Thor are making a killing. The action and adventure titles made their marks in 14 and 50 foreign markets respectively. Thor was a hit in Western Europe while Fast Five came in number one in Germany and Russia. Despite having a smaller international opening the race car heist flick is relatively outdoing Thor in ten of its newest markets.

The Top Ten

1.  Fast Five - $83.6M (weekend)…$83.6M (gross)
2.  Rio - $14.4M…$103.6M
3.  Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family - $10.0M…$41.0M
4.  Water for Elephants - $9.1M…$32.2M
5.  Prom - $5.0M…$5.0M
6.  Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil - $4.1M…$4.1M

7.  Soul Surfer - $3.3M …$33.7M
8.  Insidious - $2.6M…$48.3M
9.  Hop - $2.55M…$105.2M
10. Source Code - $2.53M …$48.9M

 Scream 4, African Cats, and Hanna wore out their welcome and joined new entry Dylan Dog: Dead of Night in at No. 11 and thereafter slots. Three more will join them next week when Thor, Something Borrowed, and Jumping the Broom premiere. Having the two latter romantic comedies in the same weekend is an odd choice. I suppose the differentiator is that one has a largely white cast and is based upon a popular book and the other is a primarily African-American ensemble made for that niche. Neither is appetizing to me, however those spurned by Sex in the City 2 may be eager to check out some more chick lit adaptations featuring Kate Hudson.

The main event is Thor, opening mostly in 3D as well as in IMAX at 3,500 locations domestic easily winning the weekend with the positive reviews received from critics. The movie is being compared to Iron Man in tone and can hope for comparable returns. Downey’s first turn as Tony Stark drew a $98-million opening weekend. The second, and less hallowed, trumped that with $128 million in three days. Thor doesn’t seem as appealing, nor does it have the bright lead in Downey Jr. Chris Hemsworth is nowhere near as well known or trusted by audiences. However, if Fast Five can turn $83 million then I will bet the same on a Norse god.


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