Universal’s Fast & Furious, the fourth film in a franchise whose original movie had basically the same name, is the odds-on favourite to win this weekend’s box-office race.
The original 2001 film was a surprise hit, opening with $40 million on its way to grossing more than $200 million worldwide. But since then, the franchise has seen dwindling box-office revenues as subsequent films featured fewer members of the first film’s cast. Now all four stars of the original are back: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez, who ironically has a terrible driving record. And even though their movie careers have stalled, the reunited cast is generating a surprising amount of buzz. Tracking is strong for teenage boys and the generation raised on Grand Theft Auto should appreciate the film’s combination of fast cars and high-octane stunts, despite Fast & Furious‘s pitiful 21% freshness rating on rottentomatoes.com. All of our box-office experts are predicting a No. 1 debut, with Slashfilm venturing that the film could make as much as $48 million this weekend.
If Fast & Furious flops, however, look for Monsters vs. Aliens to take the top spot again. There are no other kids movies opening this weekend, and the film held up well over the week, making roughly $3M per day. Our experts are putting the MvA at $35 million for the weekend. If both Monsters and Fast & Furious live up to their expectations, this would be the first April weekend to boast two $30M+ grosses.
The weekend’s only other wide release is Superbad director Greg Mottola’s ’80s themepark comedy Adventureland. The film is getting outstanding reviews (89% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes), but it’s only opening in 1,862 theatres and doesn’t seem to have much buzz behind it. Plus its R rating will shut out most of star Kristen Stewart’s Twilight fans. As a result, both Slashfilm and Box Office Guru are predicting an $8 M weekend and a fifth place finish. Entertainment Weekly is a bit more optimistic, forecasting a $12 M opening and guessing it will finish in third place. The movie just doesn’t strike us as an out-of-the-box hit, but its good reviews should help it rack up a significant gross over time.
Look for one of the other slots in the top 5 to go to The Haunting in Connecticut which did shockingly well last weekend with $23 million but will probably experience the traditional 50% second-weekend horror-movie drop and only bank $10 million or so this weekend. The final (but not necessarily fifth) spot in the top 5 will likely either go to Knowing or I Love You, Man, both of which are estimated to make about $8 million. So, that March 20 rematch may be the closest race of all.
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