It was hyped as Hollywood’s heavyweight bout of the summer, two massive behemoths going head-to-head on Memorial Day weekend in a high-stakes, no-holds-barred box office battle. In one corner, The Hangover Part III, the finale of the R-rated men-behaving-badly comedy franchise that has grossed over a billion dollars worldwide. In the other corner, Fast & Furious 6, the latest installment in the wildly successful testosterone-fueled action series. But in the end, it was no contest at all. Fast & Furious 6 mopped the floor with the Hangover threequel in fast and furious fashion, pulling in a projected $120 million over the 4-day weekend, with the Hangover looking likely to top out at an underwhelming $51.2 million over the same period.
Most box office pundits predicted a Fast & Furious victory, but few expected that the results would be so lopsided. So how do we explain this anticlimactic outcome? Were audiences turned off by the overwhelmingly negative reviews for The Hangover Part III? Had the last installment, set in Bangkok, already killed moviegoers’ buzz for the series? Probably some of both. Then again, it’s hard to think of any franchise other than perhaps James Bond, Star Wars, and Star Trek that is still going strong six films into its run, so how did Fast & Furious 6 manage to pull off its record-breaking performance a full 12 years after the series began?
Studio execs across Hollywood no doubt will be studying this Memorial Day weekend for a while, trying to puzzle out why Fast & Furious 6 left skid marks all over the back of The Hangover Part III. So let’s help them out a little. Which movie did you see? And why? Were you happy with your decision?