‘Fate of the Furious’ Tops Box Office for Third Weekend

The action movie “The Fate of the Furious” led the North American box office for the third straight weekend, the last slow stretch before big summer pictures start opening in theaters.

The eighth installment in the series from Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures added an estimated $19.9 million in ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada, ComScore Inc. said in an emailed statement Monday. That beat the $19.2 million estimate of analysts at BoxOfficePro.com. Of two new films in wide release, “The Circle,” with Tom Hanks as a Silicon Valley chief executive officer, placed a disappointing fifth with $9 million.

“Fate of the Furious” faced little competition for the top spot before Hollywood breaks out its big summer films. The May-to-September stretch typically produces about 40 percent of the industry’s annual ticket sales and is expected start strong on May 5 with a Walt Disney Co. sequel to its 2015 surprise hit “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Universal’s car-chase adventure has generated almost $1 billion in worldwide ticket sales in just three weeks.

“The Circle,” from STX Entertainment, missed a first weekend forecast of $11.4 million from Hollywood Stock Exchange.

Emma Watson features in the “The Circle” as a young new recruit at a successful internet company where Hanks plays visionary co-founder Eamon Bailey. Watson’s character, Mae, gets caught up in a nefarious scheme to invade people’s privacy.

The film was savaged by critics, securing only 18 percent positive reviews at Rottentomatoes.com. It cost $18 million to produce, not including marketing costs, according to researcher Box Office Mojo. STX is backed by TPG Growth and China’s Hony Capital.

The other new release was “How to Be a Latin Lover,” a comedy from Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. and its Pantelion label that placed second with sales of $12.3 million. It was expected to come in sixth, with $6 million in the U.S. and Canada, according to Box Office Mojo.

Mexican comedian Eugenio Derbez plays Maximo, a gigolo who’s dumped by his older rich wife. He’s forced to move in with his sister, played by Salma Hayek, where he learns to live a new kind of life. The film fared better with critics, who gave 38 percent positive reviews.

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