After Earth and Will Smith Lapped by Fast & Furious 6

After Earth and Will Smith Lapped by Fast & Furious 6Universal’s Fast & Furious 6 stayed atop the North American box office for a second weekend in a row despite a pair of newcomers arriving on the scene. It held off a solid debut for the magician thriller Now You See Me and the rather dismal opening of the pricey Sci-fi epic After Earth starring Will and Jaden Smith. Overall, the box office was up approximately 18% over last year at this time when Universal’s Snow White and the Huntsman opened to a big $56 million.

With most of the fans coming out en masse during the long Memorial Day weekend to fuel a franchise record-setting opening, Fast & Furious 6 had a precipitous drop (64%) in its second lap on 3,686 theaters. Still, the $34.5 million earned by the film this weekend was enough to keep it firmly in the number one spot. To date, the Vin Diesel smash has earned a muscular $170.4 million domestically and could cruise to a final domestic haul near the $230 million mark. Overseas, the movie has earned a great $310 million thus far. The half-billion global mark should be passed in a few days and the $626 million final haul of 2009’s Fast Five should be left in the dust within the next couple of weeks.

Exceeding everyone’s expectations in Hollywood this weekend was the number two debut of Lionsgate/Summit’s Now You See Me. The magician heist thriller starring Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Morgan Freeman and Mark Ruffalo (among others) caught the eye of audiences looking for something original and wound up with a solid $28 million on 2,925 theaters. The $9,590 per screen average for the Louis Leterrier-directed feature was the highest in the top ten. Critics gave the movie a mediocre 43% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes while ticket buyers gave the film a CinemaScore rating of “A-,” the latter which should help the movie stick around over the next few weeks.

Read our Now You See Me review.

The news wasn’t as good for Sony Pictures and Will Smith as the actor’s latest science-fiction project, the $130 million epic After Earth, debuted with underwhelming numbers. The feature, which reteams Smith with his son Jaden, certainly had the advertising backing of Sony Pictures – although they failed to mention anywhere that M. Night Shyamalan directed it – but few showed interest. Those that did show up gave the film a “B” CinemaScore rating, which isn’t great but it was certainly kinder than the 12% approval rating critics gave the film on Rotten Tomatoes. The $27 million scored on 3,401 screens marks the lowest wide opening for a Sci-fi film starring Smith, a genre the actor has had extremely good luck with over the past couple of decades (ID4, the Men In Black series, I Am Legend).

There was a tie between Paramount’s Star Trek Into Darkness and Fox’s Epic for fourth place. Each film earned an estimated $16.4 million this weekend. Actual numbers on Monday will sort out which film lands in fourth and which one lands in fifth. Trek lost 56% of its holiday crowd while bringing its domestic total to the $181 million mark. The foreign gross for Darkness stands at a series-high $147 million. Epic saw 51% of its holiday audience shrink while moving its two-week total to the $65 million mark. Overseas contributions for Epic stand at $84.8 million. Both films should stabilize themselves a bit next weekend. Trek could reach the $225 million mark while Epic should cruise to approximately $115 million.

The remainder of the top ten is as follows: 6. The Hangover Part III (Warner) $15.9 million (-62%); $88 million

7. Iron Man 3 (Disney/Marvel) $8 million (-59%); $384.7 million

8. The Great Gatsby (Warner) $6.2 million (-53%); $128.2 million

9. Mud (Roadside Attractions) $1.2 million (-37%); $16.8 million

10. The Croods (Fox/Dreamworks) $615,000 (-50%); $180.5 million

Next weekend, Universal debuts The Purge while Fox opens the Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson comedy The Internship. Only the latter has any semblance of a chance of dethroning Fast & Furious 6 from its reigning top position.

– Shawn Fitzgerald

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