Fifth in 'Furious' franchise wins the day with $33 mil

Universal’s “Fast Five” sped to first Friday night with $33.2 million from 3,643 locations.

Pic’s numbers were jumpstarted by $3.8 million from midnight screenings in 1,132 theaters Thursday night, marking U’s highest ever midnight take. B.O. pundits say the film should open to $60 million-$70 million this weekend, though the studio is now saying it could be closer to $80 million, which would make it U’s biggest opening in history.

Second went to Fox’s “Rio” with $3.6 million at 3,708 plexes, down 67% from last Friday. The holdover should continue to play well with families, counterprogramming “Fast Five,” which tracked especially well with male and ethnic auds.

“Madea’s Big Happy Family” from Lionsgate took third with $3.1 million from 2,288 locations. The Tyler Perry pic was followed by Fox’s “Water for Elephants” with $2.9 million at 2,820 playdates, and Disney’s “Prom” with $1.85 million from 2,730 playdates.

The Mouse House expects “Prom” to pull down $7 million-$9 million in its opening frame. Weinstein Co. is hoping for similar figures this weekend with “Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil,” which came in sixth with $1.07 million from 2,505 locations, but the toon may face tough competition from holdovers like “Rio.”

“Prom” is Disney’s first opener greenlit by topper Rich Ross. Pic falls under the Mouse’s mandate for films with modest budgets and cross-promotional potential.

The summer box office sesh, which usually kicks off the first frame in May, has been starting earlier and earlier in recent years. Likewise, “Fast Five” could be the year’s first major blockbuster, besting “Rio’s” bow earlier this month to $39.2 million. Previous installment “Fast and Furious” opened in early April 2009 to $71 million.

“Fast Five” opened overseas last weekend in four territories and grossed $23.5 million. Similarly, Paramount’s “Thor” will bow in almost every international market this weekend before its Stateside release next week. “Thor” has already debuted to $5.7 million in Australia.

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