Box Office Report: 'Fast 6' Earns $6.5 Mil Thursday Night, Prepares to Overtake 'Hangover III'

Fast & Furious 6

Opens: May 24

The crew returns for the sixth film in the franchise. Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson and Michelle Rodriguez reprise their roles as Dominic, Brian, Luke and Letty, respectively, as the crew works to take down criminal mastermind Owen Shaw’s (Luke Evans) organization, which is involved in vehicle warfare.

FILM REVIEW: Fast & Furious 6

UPDATED: Todd Phillips' final installment in the R-rated comedy franchise takes in a soft $11.8 million on Thursday after opening Wednesday night; "Fast and Furious 6" continues to break records overseas, where it has scored Universal's biggest opening day in 22 countries.

Memorial Day weekend got off to tospy-turvy start on Thursday as Universal's Fast and Furious 6 raced out of the gate with a strong $6.5 million in late night shows, while Warner Bros.' The Hangover Part III failed to draw many laughs with a soft $11.8 million for the full day.

Most box office observers had expected a relatively close race between the two movies over the long holiday weekend; now, Fast 6 is expected to easily outpace Hangover III in North America with a four-day gross in the $80 million to $90 million range.

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Hangover III, -- the final installment in Todd Phillips' R-rated comedy franchise and co-financed by Warners and Legendary Pictures -- is pacing to gross only in the $70 million range for the Thursday to Monday stretch, just over half the $135 million earned by The Hangover Part II during the same time period in 2011.

Until now, The Hangover  franchise has been a sure thing, but many have questioned the decision to open Fast 6 and Hangover III on the same weekend, since both films go after males. Boosting Fast 6's chances are a strong turnout among minorities, while Hangover III could be hurt by a B CinemaScore (the last film received an A- CinemaScore) and poor reviews.

Hangover III's $11.6 million Thursday included $3.1 million in Wednesday night runs, compared to a record-breaking $10 million for Hangover II, the top midnight showing for an R-rated comedy. For the full Thursday, Hangover II took in just north of $31 million.

Conversely, Fast 6 easily outpaced the $3.8 million earned in midnight runs by Fast Five in late April 2011 on its way to posting a three-day domestic debut of roughly $86 million. The action series is one of the few Hollywood franchises to gain such momentum with time.

Fast 6 is also off to a stellar start overseas, where it has already earned $53.4 million as it opens day and date in 59 markets. Last weekend, the movie grossed north of $13 million in the U.K. It opened in another 34 markets on Wednesday and Thursday, bringing the early total to the $53.4 million and, like in the U.K., marking Universal's biggest opening day in 22 markets.

Hangover III is only opening in three international markets this weekend, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand. The comedy took in a strong $1.8 million as it opened in Australia, dominating the market.