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‘Fast and Furious 6’ Fuels Record Memorial Day Frame

Tentpole scores biggest ever domestic, int'l bows for Universal, while Warner Bros.' "Hangover III" underperforms

In a super-charged, record-setting Memorial Day weekend, Universal’s “Fast and Furious 6” sped to No. 1 with a boffo estimated $122.2 million four-day opening, lapping second place entry, Warner Bros.’ “The Hangover Part III,” which grossed a softer-than-expected $63.4 million in five.

Internationally, “Fast and Furious” nabbed first place debuts in all of its 59 markets, estimating $158 million in three days.

Domestic four-day totals reached a whopping $315 million for the industry, easily surpassing 2011’s Memorial Day weekend record of $296 million.

“Fast and Furious,” which scored the biggest domestic and international bows for Universal, ranks as the fourth-highest Memorial Day opening ever behind “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” ($139.8 million), “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” ($126.9 million) and “X-Men: The Last Stand” ($122.9 million) — and during an intensely competitive weekend, during which “Hangover III” attracted a very similar audience.

“Everybody’s efforts to keep their finger on the pulse of what the hell is going on with this franchise were phenomenal,” said Universal distribution prexy Nikki Rocco, who added that the film played extraordinarily well throughout the South and across the Midwest.

Warner’s horse, meanwhile, fell drastically short of pre-weekend expectations, which had “The Hangover” pegged at earning around $80 million in five days.

“(The performance) certainly seems dwarfed by the fantastic results of ‘Fast and Furious,'” admitted Warner prexy of domestic distribution Dan Fellman. “I think we lost ground to ‘Fast’ and ‘Epic’ in the smaller markets.”

Still, “Hangover III” earned a decent ‘B’ CinemaScore (with an ‘A’ rating from under-18 auds), despite awful all-around reviews. The film ranked tops in its three day-and-date territories (Australia, New Zealand and the U.K.), with just north of $19 million.

“We’ll see how we play out,” Fellman said. “I was very pleased by Saturday night’s performance. We expected to go down, but we were up actually 1%.”

For “Fast and Furious 6,” the pic’s three-day performance  (at $98.5 million domestically) outpaced its predecessor’s by more than $10 million, though that film opened during a non-holiday frame. Globally, Universal estimates “Fast 6” will earn $275.5 million in three days.

Fox’s family-targeted 3D pic “Epic” also overperformed this weekend, grossing an estimated $44 million in four days. The $93 million Blue Sky Studios toon, which grossed $23 million overseas this weekend, aptly satisfied an undeserved family domestic market of late.

Among the weekend’s solid holdovers, Paramount’s “Star Trek Into Darkness” estimated $48 million in four days, for a two-week Stateside cume of $156.8 million.

Disney-Marvel’s “Iron Man 3” posted a projected $24.6 million through Monday, bringing its domestic tally to nearly $373 million. Warner Bros.’ “The Great Gatsby” followed with $17 million in four days, with $117.7 million Stateside so far.

In limited release, Sony Pictures Classics’ “Before Midnight” grossed a solid $273,944 in three days, averaging $54,789 from five locations. The indie three-quel scored this year’s third-highest per screen, behind “Spring Breakers” and “The Place Beyond the Pines,” respectively.

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