North American box office: ‘Fast & Furious’ breaks records, 2nd seal of the apocalypse

Cars go vroom:

1. Fast & Furious: $71 million (NEW)
2. Monsters vs. Aliens: $32.6 million (2nd week; drops 45%)
3. The Haunting in Connecticut: $9.5 million (2nd week; drops 59%)
4. Knowing: $8.1 million (3rd week; drops 45%)
5. I Love You, Man: $7.7 million (3rd week; drops 39%)

actual numbers, not estimates
I’ve already gone ga-ga over the astonishing weekend Fast & Furious had, so I won’t repeat myself. I will note, however, that the $72.5 million Sunday estimate for the weekend turned out to be a tad optimistic: the actual weekend total was $70,950,500 (which I rounded up in the listing above). Not that that makes much of a difference.

Box Office Mojo highlights the records F&F broke:

• almost doubling the previous biggest April start (which had been Anger Management’s $42.2 million)
• biggest opening ever for a car-themed movie
• biggest opening ever for a nonfantastical action movie
• headed up busiest April weekend ever.

How busy? Business was up an astonishing 62 percent over the same weekend last year. And that’s with the weekend’s other new wide release, Adventureland, having a not very adventurous debut down at No. 6, with only $5.7 million in takings.

Monsters vs. Aliens had such a monster opening last week, though, that even dropping 45 percent, it still picked up another $32 million plus, easily putting it over $100 million. Already this year we’ve got three movies with grosses over $100 million — the other are Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Taken. In 2008, only one movie released before the summer blockbuster season passed that magic $100 million mark (that was Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!). F&F will certainly pass that mark this coming weekend, and it’s not outside the realm of possibility that one of the other wide releases to come in April will also do the same. (Best bets: either State of Play or The Soloist, neither of which will likely have a blockbuster opening but either of which could play solid for a month or two if they connect with adult audiences and get some awards love later in the year. Or they could tank. Most likely they’ll do only middling business. But still.) So we’ll have at least four movies, possibly five, possibly possibly six movies opening between January and the end of April with huge numbers. (For further comparison, there were four such movies in 2007, one in 2006, three in 2005, two in 2004, and three in 2003. Going back much further, we start to run into issues of ticket inflation that throw off the comparison. But it’s yet another marker of how big 2009 has been, and it’s barely gotten started.)

F&F enjoyed the best per-screen average of the weekend — $20,500 at each of 3,461 venues — but then, with one exception, it’s all limited releases in the Nos. 2 through 10 slots:

2. Enlighten Up! ($16,161/1 screen)
3. Valentino: The Last Emperor ($14,196/3 screens)
4. Gigantic ($10,294/1 screen)
5. The River Within ($9,811/1 screen)
6. Tulpan ($8,620/1 screen)
7. Monsters vs. Aliens ($7,936/4,109 venues)
8. The Song of Sparrows ($7,863/1 screen)
9. Sin Nombre ($7,683/24 screens)
10. Paris 36 ($6,384/7 screens)

So not everyone was watching car porn this weekend. Just mostly everyone.

[numbers via Box Office Mojo]

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