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Whisper Numbers: Memorial Weekend about to get Fast & Furious

Two blockbuster franchise sequels will duel this weekend in what could be one of the biggest Memorial Day weekends ever.  First to cross the finish line should be Fast & Furious 6 [FAST6], which caps off the second trilogy in Universal’s underground racing series. The fourth film 2009’s Fast & Furious reunited Vin Diesel [VDIES], Paul Walker [PWALK] and the cast from the original The Fast and The Furious to set an opening weekend record for April at $71 million. That was topped two years later by the next sequel Fast Five, which added Dwayne Johnson [TROCK] as a lawman and debuted at $86.2 million. The lawman returns to recruit the Fast & Furious crew for a mission in Europe. With a production budget that’s now nine figures, the vehicular action mayhem has been revved across the redline by director Justin Lin [JLIN]. Since the debut of its Super Bowl trailer, Fast & Furious has generated enormous buzz. The PG-13 rated film is highly anticipated by the young, urban target audience that will rush out opening weekend.  Drifting into 3658 theater, Fast & Furious should fuel up around $105 million over the 4-day weekend.

The biggest R-rated comedy trilogy concludes with The Hangover Part III [HNOV3]. The Hangover made a massive $277.3 million, which is still the third best ever for any R-rated film. The goodwill from that film led The Hangover Part II to open 2011’s Memorial Day weekend with $135 million over its first five days. Unfortunately, moviegoers did not enjoy the repetitive sequel set in Thailand. Part III returns the Wolfpack back to Vegas, but will burnt fans follow suit?  The reviews have been even worse this time,  which are unlikely to bring back the older adults. Wednesday’s midnight gross of $3.1 million is severely down from Part II’s $10.4 million midnight gross, so Part III's Thursday gross is likely to be only a third of Part II’s $31.4 million Thursday. Drinking in 3555 theaters, The Hangover Part III may wake up with $60 million from Friday to Monday.

The third new wide release for the weekend is the animated Epic [EPIC] from Blue Sky Studios. Fox targets the family audience with a PG-rated tale about a girl who gets shrunk into a world of miniature forest people. While the story lacks originality, Epic lacks any competition in the marketplace since The Croods opened to $43.6 million in March. However, animated adventures don't do as well as comedies, while teens and adults without kids have other choices. Zooming into 3882 theaters, Epic could capture $39 million during the extended holiday weekend.

Star Trek Into Darkness [TREK2] ended up performing about the same as the previous installment Star Trek. Although the sequel has held up well during the week, the weekend will present tough competition from Fast & Furious 6 and The Hangover Part III. Star Trek Into Darkness may beam up around $44 million over the long Memorial Day weekend.

That’s the whisper from the virtual trading floor.


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By Box Office Whisperer on Thursday, May 23, 2013 @ 04:21 PM 3045 views

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