Box Office: Fast and Furious Sets Records at $72 million


Are you as surprised as I am that Fast and Furious did as well as it did? “Of course not, I predicted it all along” you are probably saying in knee-jerk fashion. Right. If you really did expect Fast and Furious to haul in $72 million and set the all-time spring record, you definitely have psychic abilities far beyond those of most mortals.

Fast and Furious not only set the April record — it shattered it by a $30 million margin. (The previous record was held by Anger Management at $42 million.) Not only that, it looks like this flick also set the opening record for the entire spring season, beating 300 by a couple of million.

Think about it. Based on these estimates the biggest spring season opening of all time is Fast and Furious. That is just mind-boggling. In fact, three of the top five spring openings of all time belong to movies that were released this year: Fast and Furious, Monsters vs. Aliens ($59 million) and Watchmen ($55 million).

I guess I should scrap the term “throwaway-season”, because these results are the kind you normally expect with summer releases.

The numbers for Fast and Furious must come as a big surprise to a lot of folks. It’s not that people didn’t expect a hit — it’s just that they didn’t expect this. This movie averaged $20,950 a theater, which is phenomenal in its own right. Its haul on Friday alone was $30,491,000. That’s more than what the last movie in this series got during its entire opening weekend.

The biggest opening in the history of the franchise until now was $50 million. This $72 million opening is easily the biggest in the history of the Fast and the Furious movies, and by a wide margin.

As an aside, it’s also the biggest opening of the year, topping the $59 million of Monsters vs. Aliens from last week.

I guess people really were starved for some mindless speed-racing action and for Vin Diesel and Paul Walker to be together again on the big screen. I think it also helped matters that this happens to be the worst year ever for the NCAA basketball tournament. Nobody cares about those nameless hoopsters this year, with all these blowout games. That encouraged a lot of guys to leave the house and go to a movie.

I also think that maybe the timing worked to the movie’s advantage. The last Fast and the Furious movie, Tokyo Drift, was a summer release in 2006 and had plenty of competition from the usual blockbusters. That was not the case this time, and it all worked out.

Where there is a feast, though, there is also famine. This week’s big box-office loser is Adventureland, which came in well under even its own modest expectations at $6 million. That’s terrible!

Well, that’s been the trend this year: for every winning movie at the box office, there has also been a big loser. I don’t have any coherent explanation for why Adventureland flopped as badly as it did. Some people are blaming the “R” rating, but that’s always too convenient an excuse. Maybe people just have no interest in seeing a movie about an amusement park. I suppose if people aren’t interested in your movie, they aren’t interested — and there’s nothing you can do about it.

The damages:

  1. Fast and Furious $72,508,000
  2. Monsters Vs. Aliens $33,510,000
  3. The Haunting in Connecticut $9,550,000
  4. Knowing $8,130,000
  5. I Love You, Man $7,850,000
  6. Adventureland $6,010,000
  7. Duplicity $4,300,000
  8. Race to Witch Mountain $3,351,000
  9. 12 Rounds $2,300,000
  10. Sunshine Cleaning $1,879,000

So that’s another big weekend at the movie box office over and done with, and all I gotta say to the people in Hollywood is that you really do need to quit laying off so many people. Otherwise, you might just risk jeopardizing the gravy train that is the movie box office right now. There is NO recession going on at your local theater. The overall box-office is up 14.5 percent to $2.57 billion, and attendance is up 12.8 percent. So you can’t say these big numbers are all due to ticket-price inflation. There genuinely are more people going to these movies.

It makes you wonder about what might be in store this summer. If a movie like Fast and Furious can open at $72 million in April, normally one of the worst months of the movie season, then we could be in store for a really wild summer blockbuster season starting this May.

What could we see for Star Trek? Or Terminator: Salvation? Or Harry Potter, for that matter? We could be in store for a LOT of blockbusters and a LOT of openings around or above $100 million this summer. Heck, not even the $158 million opening record for The Dark Knight seems insurmountable, now.

It’s hard to believe May is only a month away — but at your local multiplex, the party’s already started. See you later this week for more at the Reject Report.

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