WINNER OF THE WEEK: Fast & Furious 6. Still going strong after 12 years and five sequels, the street-racing saga easily drove off with the box office crown this holiday weekend. According to studio estimates, it fell just $1.5 million shy of speeding past $100 million during its first three days; over the full Memorial Day holiday, it's expected to earn $122.2 million. It's an especially impressive feat given how crowded the multiplex is with blockbusters right now. Credit the movie for the multi-ethnic appeal of its cast, which also helped Fast 6 gross $177 million overseas, for a worldwide total so far of $275.5 million. Also credit the film for delighting longtime fans by delivering exactly what it promises. With an A grade from CinemaScore, word-of-mouth is very strong.
Then again, nearly every major release did well this weekend, for a total estimated domestic box office of $315 million through Monday. That's a Memorial Day weekend record, surpassing the $296 million earned during the holiday two years ago. Last week's champ, Star Trek Into Darkness, held up well with an estimated $38.0 million over three days (good for third place) and a likely $48.0 million through Monday. Also staying strong was Iron Man 3 (fifth place), with a Friday-to-Sunday estimate of $19.4 million and a full holiday estimate of $24.6 million. After four weeks, it's approaching $400 million, with $367.5 million earned through Sunday
In this environment, new family cartoon Epic did even better than expected, opening in fourth place with an estimated $34.2 million through Sunday and a likely $44.0 million by the end of the holiday. It's the first major animated family film since The Croods opened 10 weeks ago, so the marketplace was hungry.
LOSER OF THE WEEK: The Hangover Part III. Months ago, the head-to-head opening of Fast 6 and Hangover III looked like an evenly-matched sausage-fest showdown. But it wasn't even close. Hangover opened in second place, but with just an estimated $42.4 million over three days, meaning perhaps $51 million by Monday. Its take through Sunday is about half of the three-day debut logged by The Hangover Part II ($86.0 million) two years ago. Of course, that second Hangover squandered most of the goodwill earned by the first, and even though this final installment promised to change gears, it still earned a B from CinemaScore, indicating just so-so word-of-mouth. Even Epic managed to steal some of its thunder.
'MIDNIGHT' MOVIE By one measure, the most eagerly awaited sequel of the weekend was Before Midnight, the third in the every-nine-years series of glimpses into the transatlantic romance of Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy). It opened on just five screens but earned an estimated $274,000 from Friday to Sunday, for a per-screen average of $54,800. That's by far the highest per-screen average of any movie this week; Fast 6 earned about half that per venue ($26,935). Also opening strong in limited release were Israeli Oscar entry Fill the Void ($60,400 on three screens), documentary We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks ($29,000 on four screens), and A Pig Across Paris ($10,000 at one venue).