"Fast & Furious 6" put its pedal to the metal with a $38.1 million Friday that has the Memorial Day weekend box office on a blistering record pace.
The latest entry in Universal’s muscle-car movie franchise could hit $120 million for the four-day weekend, and the overall box office is on track to top $300 million, which would easily outstrip the $276 million rung up in 2011, when "Hangover II" led the way with $85 million.
The follow-up to that film, "The Hangover Part III," was running second after bringing in $14.5 million Friday. The final installment in Warner Bros.’ raunchy R-rated comedy series, which opened Thursday, is looking at four-day total of around $53 million, and should wind up at around $63 million for the long weekend.
"Fast & Furious 6" was scoring overseas too. It debuted No. 1 in 59 foreign markets and took in $36 million Friday, which projects to more than $150 million from abroad this weekend. That will easily beat the studio’s previous best, which was the $92.3 million "Fast Five" rolled up in 2011.
Combined with the huge domestic debut, it was the best-ever Friday at the box office for Universal, which could see a worldwide total of $265 million for "Fast & Furious 6" by the end of the weekend.
The weekend’s other wide opener, Fox’s animated family film "Epic," debuted with $9.2 million and is on its way to around $43 million for the four days. Its project weekend gross places it just behind last week’s No. 1 movie, Paramount’s "Star Trek Into Darkness," which took in $10 million and is on pace for a $48 million four-day haul.
The next three days should stay busy at the box office, with both "Fast & Furious 6" and "Epic" receiving "A" CinemaScore grades from first-night audiences and driving word of mouth. "Hangover III" got a "B."
Disney's Marvel superhero sequel "Iron Man 3" rolled up another $5.1 million Friday and should finish at around $26 million for the four days. That raises its domestic total to $351 million, and its worldwide haul to more than $1.1 billion.
Warner Bros. "The Great Gatsby," which topped $100 million domestically Thursday, followed with $3.9 million Friday and is looking at a $16.8 million four-day total. "Mud," "The Croods," "42" and "Oblivion" rounded out the top ten.
"Fast & Furious 6" dominated Friday, averaging $10,440 on its 3,658 screens. "The Hangover Part III" averaged $4,060 per-screen in 3,555 theaters.
"Fast and Furious 6" brings back Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Dwayne Johnson along with director Justin Lin, who has overseen four of the franchise's films. It also revives fan-favorite Michelle Rodriguez, who was killed off in an earlier segment.
The London-set terrorist plot is a long way from the franchise’s street-racing roots. Since the first film 12 years ago the "Fast and Furious" movies have brought in more than $1.5 billion.