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Monday, April 6, 2009

'Fast & Furious' posts record $72.5m bow, April 3-5

Sometimes all it takes is one big reunion. Supercharging the first weekend of April Unversal's Fast & Furious blew past virtually all industry expectations with a record smashing $72.5 million. DreamWorks Animation's the animated pic Monsters vs. Aliens slipped 45% to second, with the two films helping push the marketplace to a nearly doubling of ticket sales compared to last year.

Universal hit the jackpot with the fourth installment of its Fast and the Furious franchise, reuniting the cast of the original 2001 action hit. Grossing a record-shattering $72.5 million in 3,461 theaters, the Vin Diesel starrer averaged an incredible $20,950. It was the biggest April debut in history, easily surpassing 2003's Anger Management with $42.2 million. It also blew past the $59.3 million debut of last week's Monsters vs. Aliens, becoming the biggest opening of 2009. Only 2004's Passion of the Christ opened bigger over the first four months of a year, pulling in $83.3 million in February of 2004.

Fast & Furious blew past all previous openings in the franchise, beating out 2001's The Fast and the Furious with $40.1 million, 2003's 2 Fast 2 Furious with $50.5 million and 2006's Tokyo Drift with $24 million. Diesel starred only in the first film (also the highest grossing at $144.5m), while co-star Paul Walker hung around for the second ($127.1m total). The third installment took place in Japan and featured an entirely new cast ($62.5m total).

Originally tapped for a June 12th release Universal smartly backed off from the over-saturated release date, staking claim on the first weekend of April. With little competition, a huge marketing blitz and increased traffic at theaters this year, it was no surprise Fast & Furious dominated the box office. But noone expected the sheer size of the opening, with $30.5 million in ticket sales coming on Friday alone. If estimates hold, the film will become Universal's biggest debut in history, surpassing 1997's The Lost World with $72.1 million (over the three day portion of Memorial Day weekend).

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