'Fast Five' Poised to Deliver Year's Biggest Opening

"Fast Five"
"Fast Five"
 Jaimie Trueblood/Universal Pictures

The summer season unofficially kicks off this weekend at the domestic box office with the release of Universal's Fast Five, which drives into 3,643 theaters on Friday, including 244 Imax locations.

Fast Five, already off to an impressive start overseas, is expected to deliver the biggest opening of 2011, whether that means $60 million or $70 million (or even more). Technically, the summer campaign starts May 6 with the domestic bow of Paramount and Marvel Studios' Thor.

The previous film in the action franchise, Fast & Furious, opened to $71 million, but box office observers can't count on the same gross for Fast Five considering the downturn at the domestic box office.

Fast Five will have the advantage of appealing to an ethnically diverse audience as well as younger moviegoers.

Directed by Justin Lin, one of Hollywood's hottest young talents, Fast Five reunites franchise stars Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster and Tyrese Gibson. Joining the series is Dwayne Johnson.

Universal has a lot riding on the event pic, set this time in Rio de Janeiro. The studio says the film cost $125 million after production incentives and tax credits, but others put the price tag as high as $150 million.

If Fast Five's revved-up opening overseas is any indication, Universal looks to be on strong footing, which is sure to please its new owners at Comcast.

Fast Five opened last weekend in Australia, the U.K., New Zealand and South Korea to record numbers for the franchise. To date, it has grossed more than $35 million internationally.

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