UK Box Office

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It’s not unusual for film franchises to hit their commercial stride with the second or third installment: Austin Powers and Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy are a couple of notable examples. But it’s rare for a series to keep on building as it matures into its fourth, fifth and sixth episodes, as Fast & Furious has done. The first three films in the franchise all opened below £3m in the UK, before the fourth picture, confusingly called just Fast & Furious, debuted with a shade under £5m in 2009. Fast & Furious 5 pushed a little further two years later, kicking off with £5.33m, including £1.30m in previews. Now Fast & Furious 6 arrives, screaming out of the starting block with a stunning £8.72m. That’s enough to make it already the third-biggest Fast & Furious film at the UK box office, behind only the fifth (£18.5m) and fourth (£13.7m) in the series.

While the little-heralded original film The Fast and the Furious opened strongly in the US, stunning observers with its $40m debut in June 2001, it failed to repeat the trick in the UK three months later, hampered by landing in our cinemas just three days after the 9/11 terror attacks. Cumulative UK grosses for the first three pictures run as follows: The Fast and the Furious, £6.6m; 2 Fast 2 Furious, £7.7m; Tokyo Drift, £5.8m.

Distributor Universal is reporting that the Fast & Furious 6 number is its biggest-ever three-day opening, and points out that it’s also the biggest 2D opening of 2013 so far.

Recent Fast & Furious films have opened over Easter weekend, delivering strong numbers and, in industry parlance, owning the date. May is traditionally when the top blockbusters of the year start arriving, and represents a time when rewards can be bigger, but competition fiercer. Universal took a gamble by grabbing the 17 May date, only a week after Star Trek Into Darkness, and facing off against The Great Gatsby, which admittedly is targeting a different audience. It’s a risk that has handsomely paid off.

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