Universal Pictures continued a spectacular summer at the box office over the weekend with a massive $41m take for its high-speed racing car actioner The Fast And The Furious (pictured left). Playing at 2,628 sites, the film, which is directed by Rob Cohen (Daylight, Dragonheart), cost only $38m to produce and looks set to be one of the year's most profitable pictures. Its site average was an impressive $15,830.
Box office was up a remarkable 42% from the same weekend last year when Me, Myself & Irene was the top opener. It bodes well for next weekend's July 4 Independence Day weekend which will no doubt be dominated by Steven Spielberg's AI Artificial Intelligence from Warner Bros.
Produced by the prolific Neal H Moritz (I Know What You Did Last Summer, Cruel Intentions), The Fast And The Furious stars hot newcomer Paul Walker who was last seen in The Skulls, also directed by Cohen and produced by Moritz, alongside Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez.
Universal had only been expecting an opening in the $20m region, a prediction which fell far short of the reality. It is Universal's sixth biggest opener ever and the eight biggest June opening in history. The studio has two more summer movies - Jurassic Park III and American Pie 2 - and could be looking at four out of four blockbusters this season.
The Fast And The Furious far outpaced the weekend's other opener, family comedy Dr Dolittle 2 which took a still huge $26.7m at 3,049 sites for 20th Century Fox. That is some $2.4m short of the opening gross of the original Dr Dolittle in 1998 which opened on $29.1m and went on to take $144.2m.
Directed by Steve Carr and produced by John Davis and his Davis Entertainment, Dr Dolittle 2 stars Eddie Murphy and the voices of, among others, Steve Zahn, Lisa Kudrow and Norm McDonald.
Meanwhile Paramount's Lara Croft: Tomb Raider fell 58% to $20.2m in its second weekend, although its ten day total is $84.2m and it should comfortably gross about $130m in total.
Two films from the start of the summer held firm. DreamWorks' Shrek continued to generate stunning numbers, taking $11m in its sixth week of release, while Fox's Moulin Rouge held firm at number eight with $3.8m and a total of $43.4m after four weeks on wide release.
ESTIMATED TOP TEN US JUNE 22-24
Film (Distributor) International distribution Estimated weekend gross Estimated total to date
1 (-) The Fast And The Furious (Universal) UIP $41m -
2 (-) Dr Dolittle 2 (20th Century Fox) Fox International $26.7m -
3 (1) Tomb Raider (Paramount) Mutual Film Co/UIP $20.2m $84.2m
4 (2) Atlantis: The Lost Empire (Buena Vista) BVI $13.2m $44.3m
5 (3) Shrek (DreamWorks SKG) UIP $11m $215.8m
6 (4) Swordfish (Warner Bros) Warner Bros $7.7m $53.2m
7 (5) Pearl Harbor (Buena Vista) BVI $7m $172.1m
8 (8) Moulin Rouge (20th Century Fox) Fox International $3.8m $43.4m
9 (6) Evolution (DreamWorks SKG) Columbia TriStar $3.6m 32.6m
10 (7) The Animal (Columbia) Revolution/Columbia TriStar $3m $51.3m