Fast Five Vin Diesel
Credit: Jaimie Trueblood

Hello summer. The street-racing action film Fast Five ignited the box office with a franchise-best $83.6 million opening, according to studio estimates. The PG-13 movie, the fifth in the Fast and the Furious series, broke three major records. First, it crushed Rio‘s $39.2 million debut to score 2011’s largest opening. (Though the record won’t last for long, with Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Kung Fu Panda 2, and The Hangover Part II all arriving this month.) Second, it topped The Lost World: Jurassic Park, which debuted to $72.1 million in 1997, to become Universal’s best opening ever. And third, the flick posted the largest April opening of all time, speeding past its 2009 predecessor Fast and Furious ($71 million).

Fast Five, which cost Universal $125 million to produce after tax rebates, attracted a young crowd, with 52 percent under the age of 25. Its audience was also ethnically diverse: 35 percent Caucasian, 33 percent Hispanic, 19 percent African-American, 9 percent Asian, and 4 percent other, according to the studio’s exit polls. And everyone dug what they saw, with CinemaScore audiences handing the film an overall “A” grade, and critics offering generally favorable reviews. Fast Five also played at 243 IMAX locations, contributing $8.3 million to its monster tally.

The weekend’s other new releases, however, barely made it past the starting line. Prom wasn’t the starry, starry night Disney was hoping for, as the high-school drama featuring Friday Night Lights‘ Aimee Teegarden finished fifth with $5 million. The PG-rated movie, the first to be green-lit by Walt Disney Studios chairman Rich Ross, cost $8 million to produce and received a “B+” rating from CinemaScore moviegoers. Faring even worse was the Weinstein Company’s animated fairy-tale sequel Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil, which gathered only $4.1 million. The original Hoodwinked, by comparison, grossed $12.4 million in 2005. And with a semi-wide release at 875 theaters, the horror comedy Dylan Dog: Dead of Night summoned just $885,000 for a paltry per-theater average of $1,011.

Holdovers, coming off of Easter weekend, suffered considerable — but not disastrous — declines. The animated Rio, which had topped the charts the last two weeks, dipped 45 percent for $14.4 million. Like Fast Five, the tropical-bird adventure is set in Rio de Janeiro. It’ll cross $100 million today, pushing its three-week total to $103.6 million. The Tyler Perry comedy Madea’s Big Happy Family fell 60 percent for $10.1 million. That’s a typical drop for the filmmaker, whose movies tend to be front-loaded. And the Reese Witherspoon-Robert Pattinson circus romance Water for Elephants took in $9.1 million — a 46 percent decline.

In limited release, Werner Herzog’s 3-D documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams collected a rock-solid $127,000 from five theaters. Check back next week as Thor attempts to pick up his hammer — and your money.

1. Fast Five — $83.6 mil

2. Rio — $14.4 mil

3. Madea’s Big Happy Family — $10.1 mil

4. Water for Elephants — $9.1 mil

5. Prom — $5.0 mil

6. Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil — $4.1 mil