Box office: ‘Fast & Furious 6’ speeds to $6.5 million Thursday

“Fast & Furious 6” cruised to a $6.5 million debut on Thursday night, virtually doubling what “Fast Five” made in 2011. Meanwhile, “The Hangover Part III” added to its Wednesday night take, bringing its total to a soft $11.7 million.

The two franchise films were expected to battle it out over the long weekend, but now it’s becoming clear that “Furious” will easily win this race, likely grossing around $80 for the four-day frame. “Hangover” will likely pick up somewhere in the $70 million range, far short of its predecessor. 

“Furious 6,” which reunited Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Paul Walker and others, opened in 2,409 theaters in North American, and is expanding to 3,659 today. “Fast 5” nabbed $3.8 million at initial midnight screenings on April 29, 2011.

The final film in the comedy franchise, “Hangover” is screening in 3,555 North American theaters. It stars Brady Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms and Ken Jeong. Its $11.7 million opening is small potatoes compared to the $31.6 million brought in by 2011’s “The Hangover Part II” in its first day of play. That film earned a huge $135 million in its first weekend. 

The family-friendly animated adventure “Epic” is also opening today, and will likely draw big numbers, particularly as parents take their kids to the multiplex Sunday and Monday.