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‘Fast Five’ Is Top Weekend Movie With Sales of $83.6 Million

“Fast Five,” the fifth installment in the series about elite street racers, opened as the top movie in U.S. and Canadian theaters, taking in a record $83.6 million for Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures.

“Rio,” the animated film from News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox, had sales of $14.4 million, dropping to second place after two weeks in first, researcher Box-Office said today in an e-mailed statement.

“Fast Five” lifted U.S. box-office revenue for a third straight weekend, suggesting that with summer films opening in theaters the industry will begin to whittle down a year-to-date drop in sales and attendance.

It is the biggest opening since “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” raked in $125 million in November, Gitesh Pandya, editor of Box Office Guru, said of “Fast Five” in a telephone interview. “It’s the biggest opening ever in the month of April and also the biggest opening in company history for Universal Pictures,” he said. “There’s no better way to kick start the summer box office.”

“Thor,” based on the Marvel Comics character, opens next weekend and “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” on May 20.

Biggest Since Potter

In “Fast Five,” Vin Diesel returns as a renegade street racer and professional thief on the run from authorities. He and friends must confront a Brazilian drug lord and pursue federal agents to win their freedom. Paul Walker and Dwayne Johnson co-star.

The first four films in the series took in $955.4 million in worldwide ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo, another industry researcher. With the latest installment, the franchise topped the $1 billion mark worldwide.

“It’s pretty amazing what that franchise has been able to do,” Jeff Bock, a box office analyst with Exhibitor Relations said in a telephone interview. “Usually with a fifth film in a franchise, you don’t see it continue to raise the bar.”

“Rio,” featuring the voices of Anne Hathaway and Jesse Eisenberg, tells the story of a domesticated macaw who travels to Rio de Janeiro from Minnesota to find a mate.

‘Big Happy Family’

The Tyler Perry comedy “Madea’s Big Happy Family” dropped to third place from second with sales of $10.5 million for Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.

The film stars Perry, in drag, in his recurring role as the outspoken matron of a large Southern family. He also writes, directs and produces the films.

“Water for Elephants” was fourth in its second weekend with sales of $9.1 million for the Fox studio. The film features “Twilight” star Robert Pattinson as a veterinary student who falls in love with a circus performer played by Reese Witherspoon.

“Prom,” Walt Disney Co.’s tale of teens preparing for the year’s biggest dance, came in fifth place with opening weekend sales of $5 million. “Prom” features Aimee Teegarden as a perfectionist whose infuriation with a classmate turns to attraction. Thomas McDonell and DeVaughn Nixon co-star.

The animated feature “Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil” opened in sixth place with $4.1 million in sales for Weinstein Co. In the film, a teen-age Red Riding Hood is recruited into a covert organization to investigate the disappearance of Hansel and Gretel. Hayden Panettiere provides the voice of Red Riding Hood. Co-stars include Patrick Warburton as the Big Bad Wolf, joined by Joan Cusack and Amy Poehler.

Revenue for the top 12 films this past weekend gained 55 percent to $142.4 million, from a year earlier. Domestic box-office sales so far this year have declined 14 percent to $3.04 billion, compared with the same period of 2010. Attendance dropped 15.5 percent year-over-year.

The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales for April 29-30 and estimates for today.

                       Rev.            Avg./   Pct.   Total
Movie                 (mln)  Theaters  Theater Chg.   (mln)  Wks
1 FAST FIVE            $83.6   3,644  $22,950   --    $83.6   1
2 RIO                   14.4   3,708    3,883   -45   103.6   3
3 TYLER PERRY’S MADEA   10.5   2,288    4,589   -58    41.1   2
4 WATER FOR ELEPHANTS    9.1   2,820    3,236   -46    32.3   2
5 PROM                   5.0   2,730    1,832   --      5.0   1
6 HOODWINKED TOO!        4.1   2,505    1,653   --      4.1   1
7 SOUL SURFER            3.3   2,010    1,642   -39    33.8   4
8 INSIDIOUS              2.7   1,584    1,696   -48    48.3   5
9 HOP                    2.6   3,176      805   -79   105.3   5
10 SOURCE CODE           2.5   1,645    1,539   -50    48.9   5
11 AFRICAN CATS          2.3   1,224    1,908   -61    10.6   2
12 HANNA                 2.2   1,569    1,404   -58    35.9   4

Top 12 Films Grosses:
   This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
     $142.4         $91.7      55.4

Year-to-date Revenue:
     2011          2010
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
   $3,039.2      $3,542.9     -14.2

 Year-to-date Attendance:     -15.5%

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