fast and furious 6

'Hangover III' competes for same young male aud

The box office battle between “Fast and Furious 6″ and “The Hangover Part III” actally ended three weeks ago.

SEE ALSO: Vin Diesel Promises L.A. Setting for ‘Fast 7′

Early tracking and social media buzz gave the edge to “Fast and Furious.” Now, tracking suggests the film could earn upwards of $100 million in four days, according to some B.O. pundits. More conservative predictions put the Universal pic at around $85 million, however.

“Hangover,” meanwhile, could total roughly $10 million less than had been anticipated on Wednesday, with early matinee grosses suggesting a five-day opening in the $65 million range.

The Warner Bros.-Legendary Pictures comedy grossed $3.1 million Wednesday night, a far cry from its predecessor’s $10.4 million late-night start (but only $200,000 less than “Star Trek” last weekend). The deflated five-day projection for “Hangover III” is based on how the previous installment played this same weekend in 2011.

Still, the combined B.O. might of “Fast and Furious” and “Hangover” — along with Fox-Blue Sky Animation’s $93 million family film, “Epic,” with a potential $40 million four-day opening — is expected to lift Memorial Day weekend box office to record heights, surpassing the $273 million benchmark set in 2011.

“Fast and Furious,” which cost $160 million to produce, launches day-and-date in 59 territories. The film bowed last weekend in the U.K., where it scored the biggest-ever local opening for Universal with $13.2 million in three days.

Universal releases “Fast and Furious 6″ at 3,659 Stateside locations starting Friday.

The Memorial Day scheduling of both “Fast and Furious” and “Hangover” was a surprising choice, since both films target mostly young males. But Universal claimed the date first on March 22, 2012 — nearly eight months before Warner Bros. dated its pic. According to sources, director Todd Phillips insisted on the holiday berth for “Hangover III” after the success of the sequel.

“Fast and Furious” has a stronghold on Hispanic auds, as well as African-Americans. The sixth installment also has been generating mostly positive reviews with a 76% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Neither Warner Bros. nor Universal was willing to blink on the opening weekend choice, believing the holiday market would expand enough to accommodate both films.

There are three holdovers still doing sizable business, however: Paramount’s “Star Trek Into Darkness,” Disney-Marvel’s “Iron Man 3″ and Warner’s “The Great Gatsby.”

“Star Trek” has led the mid-week charge, having just crossed $100 million at the domestic box office, while “Gatsby” and “Iron Man” have fought each other for second and third place all week long. Entering its third weekend, “Gatsby” nears the $100 million mark, while “Iron Man” approaches a colossal $350 million Stateside in four weeks.

At the specialty box office, Sony Pictures Classics bows critically-acclaimed “Before Midnight” at five locations in New York, L.A. and helmer Richard Linklater’s hometown of Austin, Texas. The third installment of Linklater’s cult series starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy has scored a nearly perfect score on both Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.

IFC Films, meanwhile, expands Noah Baumbach’s black-and-white comedy “Frances Ha” to 60 engagements. Pic bowed last weekend averaging a solid $34,350 from four.

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