Car caper takes in $83.6 mil domestic, $165 mil global cume

Hollywood’s box office suddenly seems to be driving on higher-octane fuel as Universal’s “Fast Five” jumpstarted the summer B.O. Stateside with an estimated debut of $83.6 million. Overseas, the combined firepower of topnotch performers like Paramount’s “Thor” and 20th Century Fox’s “Rio,” as well as “Fast Five,” made for a strong season launch around the world.

“Fast Five” turned in Universal’s best-ever debut, as well as the year’s highest opening to date. Pic grossed $129 million worldwide, lifting global cume to an already revved-up $165 million after only two weeks.

“This weekend has become extremely viable,” said Universal distribution topper Nikki Rocco. “I think people are hungry for big movies by this time of year.”

“Fast Five” won the weekend in every new territory, including Russia and Germany, where, as in the U.S., the film gave U its biggest opening weekend ever. In Russia, “Fast Five” debuted with $11.5 million — the territory’s highest debut this year — while in Spain, the pic won with $6.3 million.

Paramount’s “Thor” won the weekend overseas, taking in an estimated $83 million from 56 markets — 2011’s best-yet start internationally — bringing the foreign tally to $93 million, including one week of play in Australia. Par launched “Thor” offshore a week before its Stateside bow on May 6 to give the film a week of unimpeded playtime before Disney rolls out “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” worldwide the weekend of May 20.

While “Thor” went in virtually every major overseas territory, “Fast Five” still has 49 markets yet to open, including France Italy, Brazil and Mexico next weekend.

“Fast Five” dominated the domestic market, commanding nearly every demographic over 13, which helped boost weekend totals some 53% above last year. Pic’s perf stung fellow openers “Prom” and “Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil,” both of which disappointed given higher weekend projections.

Disney’s “Prom,” with an estimated $5 million, fared only slightly better than the Weinstein Co.’s “Hoodwinked,” which took $4.1 million through Sunday.

Both companies have limited risk on the titles because of modest budgets or strategic distribution structures. “Hoodwinked” is being handled as a service deal by TWC for a distribution fee; “Prom” cost only about $9 million to make and should see plenty of ancillary life.

“The risk was small, and we’ll have an opportunity over the next few weeks to get some of that back, along with other markets downstream,” said Disney exec VP of sales and distribution Dave Hollis.

Another pic to go wide this weekend, Freestyle Releasing’s supernatural spoof “Dylan Dog: Dead of Night” tallied $884,625 from an aggressive 875 locations. Pic scored a meager per-screen average of $1,011.

Teenage frenzy

As expected, “Fast Five” played best with moviegoers under 25, with 52%, but the 48% over 25 was significant. Pic also scored a solid A CinemaScore rating, with those under 18 awarding an A+.

Disney’s “Prom,” which received an A- CinemaScore rating, saw 56% of its aud under 18 with an overwhelming 82% female. That should have helped “Prom” compete against male-driven “Fast Five,” except that film also drew significant shares of women and teen girls.

With Weinstein’s “Hoodwinked,” most auds were parents and kids aged 12 and under. Toon received a B+ CinemaScore rating.

Fox’s 3D toon “Rio” saw one of the weekend’s best holds, down 45% in its third frame, with an estimated $14.4 million.

“Rio,” which has cumed $103.6 million domestically and $263 million overseas, benefited from a successful family-counterprogramming bid, while Lionsgate’s “Madea’s Big Happy Family,” off a considerable 60%, competed with “Fast Five” for ethnic auds. “Happy Family” took an estimated $10.1 million in its soph sesh; U.S. cume is north of $40 million.

Also in its second outing, Fox’s period swooner “Water for Elephants” fell only 46%, with a weekend take of $9.1 million and a Stateside cume of $32.3 million.

Meanwhile, U’s live action-toon hybrid “Hop” fell victim to post-holiday blues, dropping a steep 79% during its first frame after Easter weekend. Pic, which grossed $2.6 million in its fifth frame, had further to fall after last weekend’s 14% increase, thanks to enhanced holiday traffic.

“Hop” has cumed a buoyant $105.3 million Stateside, with an additional foreign tally of $58.4 million.

Gotham’s Metropolitan Opera continued its fifth season of live transmissions Saturday, screening Verdi’s “Il Trovatore” for an estimated $2.53 million in North America. It was seen live on more than 870 screens, with an additional 550 in a total of 35 European and Latin American countries.

‘Fast’ coin for Imax

Imax isn’t best known for featuring muscle shirts or souped-up cars on its mega screens. But with U’s “Fast Five,” the company went full throttle and Imax sites repped nine of the film’s top 10 theaters, with $8.3 million of the total domestic opening from just 243 Imax locations. That’s a per-screen average of $34,156 — the second-highest of any film, on any format, so far this year, behind Focus Feature’s “Jane Eyre,” which earned $45,721 per screen.

And while Imax profited from the franchise’s popularity, as well as slightly higher ticket prices, “Fast Five’s” Imax success was by no means a guarantee, especially since the company usually targets families and fanboys; consider examples like “Megamind” and “Tron: Legacy.”

But the franchise pic, whose target demo is not fanboy-driven, still featured Imax’s trademark explosions and larger-than-life visuals.

“Fast Five” marks the first time Imax has worked on the franchise, as well as only the second time the company has partnered with Universal on a day-and-date release; Imax released U’s “Sanctum” earlier this year.

According to Imax prexy Greg Foster, the film serves as the perfect flagship for future pairings.

“I’m not sure if Universal is going to make a sixth,” Foster said, “but if they do, we’re in.”

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