Paul Walker stars in "Fast & Furious 6," the easy winner… (Universal Pictures )
"Fast & Furious 6" blew past the finish line at the box office this Memorial Day weekend, leaving "The Hangover Part III" to face a sobering reality.
The sixth entry in the action-packed "Fast" franchise took in a robust $120 million from Thursday evening through Monday, according to an estimate from distributor Universal Pictures. That's by far the best opening for the series, whose fifth installment collected $86.2 million over a three-day weekend in 2011. (The sixth film grossed $96.8 million in three days.)
The third and final "Hangover" film, meanwhile, performed more poorly than both of its predecessors. The movie, which hit theaters late Wednesday, will have sold an estimated $63 million worth of tickets by the end of the holiday weekend. Over Memorial Day weekend in 2011, the second "Hangover" grossed $135 million during roughly the same time period. Even the 2009 original picture debuted with $45 million in just three days; the third film grossed $41.8 million between Friday and Sunday.
PHOTOS: Scenes from 'Fast & Furious 6'
The other picture new to cinemas this weekend, "Epic," served as the family-friendly alternative for moviegoers. The 3-D animated film grossed a solid $42.6 million over the four-day weekend.
With the "Star Trek" sequel, "Iron Man 3" and "The Great Gatsby" still doing solid business in theaters, it was a record Memorial Day weekend at the box office. Ticket sales amounted to $316 million, per Hollywood.com, breaking 2011's record of $276.8 million -- not accounting for inflation. Though summer blockbusters have helped to reverse a downward trend at the box office, 2013 receipts and attendance are still down 7% compared with last year.
Critics and audiences loved the latest "Fast" film, as those who turned up to see the movie over the weekend assigned it an average grade of A, according to market research firm CinemaScore. Heading into the weekend, the movie was generating the most interest among young men, but the picture ended up appealing to males and females in nearly equal measure. The weekend crowd ended up being a bit older, as well, as 57% of “Fast” moviegoers were older than 25.
Likely because of the film’s ethnically diverse cast -- which includes Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez and Dwayne Johnson -- 32% of those who saw the sixth film were Latino.
“The movie did very well in urban, diverse areas, and the entire South was also very strong,” said Nikki Rocco, Universal’s president of domestic distribution. “What has been most thrilling for me, though, is that as these films go on women are endorsing them. We spent a lot of time trying to make this more than a car-heist franchise, and it’s paid off.”
PHOTOS: The cars of 'Fast & Furious 6'
Financed by Universal and Elliot Inc. for $160 million, "Fast & Furious 6" is on pace to outgross all of the previous entries in the franchise. To date, "Fast Five" is the most successful film in the series, having collected $626.1 million worldwide two years ago -- about 67% of which came from overseas sales.
The sixth movie is already off to a good start abroad. Playing in 59 foreign markets this weekend, the movie grossed $160.3 million -- exceeding the $125 million "Fast Five" opened with in those same locations in 2011. The movie, which launched in the United Kingdom last weekend, has now grossed a total of $197 million internationally.
This weekend, the sixth "Fast" had the biggest opening of all time in the United Arab Emirates and Argentina, though it sold the most tickets in Russia and Mexico. The picture has yet to debut in six countries, including Japan and China in July.
"The Hangover Part III" received scathing critical reviews, but moviegoers didn't hate it, giving the film a B CinemaScore this weekend. The movie attracted a slightly older male crowd, as 52% of those who saw it were men and 55% were older than 25.
Heading into the weekend, the R-rated film was expected to collect $80 million by the end of the weekend -- but by mid-day Friday, it was clear the picture would not meet that mark.
PHOTOS: Scenes from 'Hangover III'