Thanks to its supercharged muscle cars and Latino star power, "Fast & Furious 6" sped into first place at the box office for the second consecutive weekend.
With an expected additional $34.5 million in North American ticket sales, the Universal Pictures release kept the No. 1 spot after opening to more than $120 million over the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
While some thought "After Earth," the futuristic caper starring father-and-son team Will Smith and Jaden Smith, would take over the top spot, Box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian said the sixth installment in the street-racing franchise was "preordained to be No. 1 again."
With Smith’s film opening in third place with $27 million, Sony Pictures was rather disappointed.
"It's below our expectations here domestically," said Rory Bruer, Sony's president of worldwide distribution. But he anticipates it will play well overseas.
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"We feel very good about the potential of the film on a worldwide basis," he said. "It will open 60 countries next week."
Among the other new original offerings was the magic-heist thriller "Now You See Me," which exceeded industry expectations to debut in second place with $28.1 million. The Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment 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.
Fox's animated "Epic" and Paramount's "Star Trek: Into Darkness" tied for fourth place with $16.4 million each, while "The Hangover Part III" was fifth with $15.9 million.
One of the reasons “Fast” continues to generate high revenue is its appeal with the Latino audience, who made up nearly a third of the movie’s weekend audience during its debut over Memorial Day.
"There are dynamics within Hispanic culture in terms of togetherness with family that transcend into moviegoing," Fabian Castro, vice president of multicultural marketing at Universal Pictures, told the Los Angeles Times.
Castro said it makes sense for movie studios to go after the lucrative Latino market. A Nielsen report earlier this year said Latinos account for 25 percent of all movie tickets sold – yet only make up 18 percent of the moviegoing population in the U.S.
"Out of our average 15 releases, we're probably promoting 12 or 13" to the Latino market, Castro said in a phone interview.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.