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Box office preview: 'Fast Five' in gear and ready to drive away with the weekend

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Fast Five Vin Brewster
Jaimie Trueblood

It’s not even May and summer movies are already upon us. The first big, brash, bro-tastic action film of the season, Fast Five, hits theaters tomorrow, and, by all accounts, it’s poised to leave tire tracks on the back of its competition. Rio, which like Fast Five is also largely set in Rio de Janeiro, will have to flap its wings in order to keep going strong in its third week when faced with the equally family friendly Prom and Hoodwinked Too!: Hood vs. Evil.

1. Fast Five: $70 million

Much like the series’ need-for-speed wheelmen, the blockbuster franchise shows no signs of slowing down. Last year’s sequel/reunion/reboot Fast and Furious dropped two “the’s” and picked up a cool $71 million in its first weekend. The fifth entry is opening nearly a month later this year, as viewers gear up for summer, but the sluggish marketplace might keep its numbers from exceeding those of its predecessor. Regardless, Fast Five is almost guaranteed to beat out Rio’s $39.2 million to be the biggest opening weekend of 2011 so far. 

2. Rio: $16 million

Fox’s colorful animated flick benefited from decent reviews and spectacular word-of-mouth (and “A” rating from CinemaScore audiences) last week and only dropped 30 percent. I predict that the high-flying film will remain the go-to choice for animation, beating out the smaller-opening Hoodwinked sequel, and will only experience a slightly larger percentage drop from last week’s $26.8 million.

3. Prom: $12 million

Disney is clearly hoping that tweens and teens will be asking each other to take them to Prom, but it’s highly doubtful that the film will reach anything near the success of High School Musical 3, which sang-and-danced its way to $42 million its first weekend but opened in almost 1,000 more theaters than Prom’s 2,730.

4. Madea’s Big Happy Family: $10 million

Tyler Perry’s films are almost always guaranteed a very solid opening, and last week, he only missed taking the top spot from Rio by a measly $1 million. Unfortunately for him, his films are also almost always guaranteed a pretty steep drop-off in their second week. His last Madea movie slipped over 60 percent, and it’s unlikely that his latest will hold on to much more this weekend.

5. Water for Elephants: $9 million

While Water for Elephants only debuted at No. 3 last week, it did manage to take in the highest per-theater average. However, those obsessed with a certain revivified young actor might find that Prom holds equal appeal for their young teenage hearts, and Water could slow down to more of a trickle.

Opening in limited release is Werner Herzog’s documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams, which starts off small on five screens and will force viewers to confront their own mortality and the existential abyss of meaninglessness….in 3-D!