PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

News

'Fast Five' burns rubber at box office

Amy Kaufman
Los Angeles Times (MCT)

LOS ANGELES — "Fast Five" ran over the competition at the box office this weekend, shifting ticket sales into high gear for the first time this year.

Summer's first big-budget studio tent pole grossed $83.6 million, according to an estimate from distributor Universal Pictures. That marks the biggest opening weekend of the year, speeding past "Rio's" $39.2 debut last month.

The movie lapped the other two new films that debuted in wide release this weekend. Not that many moviegoers showed up to "Prom," which collected a weak $5 million. The animated sequel "Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil" also fared poorly, opening to far less than 2005's "Hoodwinked," with a soft $4.1 million take.

Heading into the weekend, the major question in the movie industry was whether or not "Fast Five" would be able to buck this year's box-office trend, which has so far reflected a depressed marketplace. Even though pre-release audience surveys had indicated that the film could gross over $75 million on its first weekend in theaters, the movie's distributor, Universal Pictures, cautiously estimated a $60 million opening. Now the movie has helped pushed the box office out of its slump, with ticket sales up 52 percent this weekend as compared with the same weekend last year.

While "Fast Five's" impressive debut is good news for the industry, it's also important for Universal. The "Fast" series is one of the studio's only franchises, and it invested a lot in the most recent fifth film. Universal spent at least $170 million to produce the movie, according to three people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to discuss the film's budget. A studio spokeswoman said the actual cost was $125 million.

The studio made a number of changes to the "Fast" franchise with its latest film, namely switching its genre from a pure underground-racing movie to a heist film. The movie reunites stars from all four "Fast" movies, including Paul Walker and Vin Diesel, and introduces newcomer Dwayne Johnson. "Fast Five" also has a different international setting, taking place in Rio de Janeiro. As a result, "Fast Five" had the best opening of any film in the franchise, whose fourth film brought in $71 million on its premiere in 2009.

"Every move we made was carefully planned out, from the concept to how we cast it to the dating," said Universal's president of domestic distribution, Nikki Rocco, referring to the studio's decision to move "Fast Five"s release date from June to April. "It's pure entertainment, and having a movie that's so ethnically diverse is a positive."

Indeed, as with previous "Fast films," the movie was especially popular with minorities — 33 percent of the audience was Latino, while 19 percent was African-American. But it seemed that everyone who saw the film loved it, as the movie received an average grade of A, according to market research firm CinemaScore. But strong word-of-mouth may not be all that important for the action flick, anyway. "Fast & Furious" in 2009 got an average A-minus grade, but ticket sales still fell 62 percent on its second weekend in theaters.

In any event, it's likely that the film will spawn yet another sequel. The studio has already entered into discussions about a sixth film, which would be aimed for 2013.

Overseas, "Fast Five" opened in 14 foreign markets this weekend, collecting $45.3 million and bringing its international tally to $81.4 million. The film took the No. 1 spot in 10 countries, but performed best in Russia, where it collected $11.5 million, and Germany, where it made $10.2 million.

"Prom," the first film to be put into production by Walt Disney Studios Chairman Rich Ross, did not resonate as strongly with audiences. The coming-of-age story featuring a cast of unknown young actors was aimed squarely at teenage girls. The movie succeeded in attracting young females — 82 percent of the crowd were women, and 66 percent were under 18 — but not in the numbers the studio had hoped.

If there's any upside for Disney after a slow opening weekend, it's that the movie was inexpensive to produce — it had a budget of about $8 million. And word of mouth on the film may not be terrible, as those who saw it gave it an average grade of B-plus.

"When you make these films for a little bit of money, you're always hoping it's like 'Insidious,' " Walt Disney Studios' president of distribution Chuck Viane said, referring to the inexpensively produced horror film which has so far grossed almost $50 million. "Obviously, we made a movie for a price point with a very specific audience — and everyone we wanted turned up, there just weren't as many of them as we hoped."

"Hoodwinked Too!" received that same audience-rating but was also only able to attract a specific demographic. An overwhelming 71 percent of the audience was under the age of 12.

After the film's poor opening weekend, it seems unlikely that "Hoodwinked Too!" will be able to replicate the success of its 2005 predecessor, "Hoodwinked!" which collected $110 million worldwide. The moderately budgeted movie, released by Weinstein Co. and produced with animation company Kanbar Entertainment, was likely overshadowed this weekend by two other family films still in theaters, "Rio" and "Hop."

"Rio," which took the No. 1 spot at the box office over the last two weekends, continued to do well, adding $14.4 million to its total, which now stands at $103.6 million.

In limited release, Warner Herzog's 3-D documentary "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" opened in five theaters and grossed $127,500 for a solid per-theater average of $25,500. "Dylan Dog: Dead of the Night," starring Brandon Routh, grossed a soft $884,625 in 875 theaters.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Jefferson Starship Soar Again with 'Mother of the Sun'

Rock goddess Cathy Richardson speaks out about honoring the legacy of Paul Kantner, songwriting with Grace Slick for the Jefferson Starship's new album, and rocking the vote to dump Trump.

Books

Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll (excerpt)

Ikette Claudia Lennear, rumored to be the inspiration for Mick Jagger's "Brown Sugar", often felt disconnect between her identity as an African American woman and her engagement with rock. Enjoy this excerpt of cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon's Black Diamond Queens, courtesy of Duke University Press.

Maureen Mahon
Music

Ane Brun's 'After the Great Storm' Features Some of Her Best Songs

The irresolution and unease that pervade Ane Brun's After the Great Storm perfectly mirror the anxiety and social isolation that have engulfed this post-pandemic era.

Music

'Long Hot Summers' Is a Lavish, Long-Overdue Boxed Set from the Style Council

Paul Weller's misunderstood, underappreciated '80s soul-pop outfit the Style Council are the subject of a multi-disc collection that's perfect for the uninitiated and a great nostalgia trip for those who heard it all the first time.

Music

ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.

Music

The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.

Books

Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.

Film

Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.

Music

Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".

Music

John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.

Music

The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.

Music

Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.

Music

In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.

Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.