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'Fast 6' Takes First Place at Box Office Again

By Sandy Cohen

LOS ANGELES -- With its supercharged muscle cars, Fast & Furious 6 raced to first place at the box office for the second consecutive weekend.

The Universal Pictures (CMCSA) release is expected to add $34.5 million to its North American ticket sales, keeping it in the No. 1 spot after opening to more than $120 million over the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian said the sixth installment in the street-racing franchise was "preordained to be No. 1 again." But in a season of sequels, three original films were among the most popular at cinemas over the weekend.

"Ordinarily, summer and sequel go together," he said. "This is a step in the direction of originality."

Among the new original offerings was the magic-heist thriller Now You See Me, which exceeded industry expectations to open in second place with $28.1 million. The Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment (LGF) release features an ensemble cast, including Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Woody Harrelson, in a tale of illusionists who rob banks and share the spoils with their audience.

"It certainly has been magic for us to watch the numbers this weekend," said Richie Fay, Lionsgate's president of domestic distribution, who attributes the film's success to a "brilliant marketing campaign" and positive word of mouth.

After Earth, the futuristic caper starring father-and-son team Will Smith and Jaden Smith, opened to $27 million, good for third place but still disappointing for Sony Pictures (SNE).

"It's below our expectations here domestically," said Rory Bruer, Sony's president of worldwide distribution. But he anticipates it will play well overseas.

"We feel very good about the potential of the film on a worldwide basis," he said. "It will open 60 countries next week."

Fox's (NWS) animated Epic and Paramount's (VIA) Star Trek: Into Darkness tied for fourth place with $16.4 million each, while The Hangover Part III was fifth with $15.9 million.

Also edging into the top 10 was the Indian film Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. It opened in 162 theaters in the United States and Canada on Friday and earned $1.6 million, good for eighth place.

"It's very unusual, but Bollywood films sometimes do crack into the top 20 or top 15," Dergarabedian said. "They're usually not in that many theaters, but they make a big splash."
Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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