Paul Walker and Vin Diesel are two of the stars of "Fast & Furious 6."

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Four-day holiday racked up the largest-ever Memorial Day weekend at the box office

"Fast & Furious 6" earned an estimated more than $120 million

"The Hangover Part III" came in second place with $51.2 million  — 

Here’s what the Memorial Day weekend taught us: America really likes the “Fast & Furious” franchise, but America loves movies.

The four-day holiday racked up $314 million in receipts, the largest-ever Memorial Day weekend at the box office. As for “Fast 6,” it’s hard to talk about the successful opening without resorting to cliché. Despite hitting theaters in a crowded May marketplace, the Universal film earned an estimated $120,019,000, the fourth-highest Memorial Day opening in history, for a per-theater average of $33,400. That’s the second-biggest opening this year, behind Iron Man 3, and a sizable leap from the trajectory of the previous two Fasts (and most predictions).

The franchise’s appeal seems to be growing in reverse (we wrote a cover story on it!), getting bigger with each film. The newest installment earned an “A” CinemaScore (“A+” from audiences under 25) with an almost even split between men and women (51/49 percent). Conventionally, that would indicate that “Fast 6” will hold up better than the typical tent pole — however, Fast Five also earned an “A” and good reviews while still dropping more than 60 percent in its second weekend. That said, it still wouldn’t affect the success of the latest film so far: Fast & Furious 6 has grossed $317 million globally against a $160 million budget. And in case you haven’t heard: “Fast 7” is coming soon.

Speaking of big-budget, male-skewing films: “The Hangover Part III” earned an estimated $51,215,000 over the four-day weekend, for a per-theater average of $14,406, and $63 million since Thursday. That’s hardly nothing — especially for a hard-R comedy, which has a notoriously rocky record at the box office. But the $100 million film’s “B” CinemaScore and middling reviews indicate that word-of-mouth won’t help subsequent weekend grosses. From here, it’s hard to see Part III matching the $250+ million grosses of the first two films, though strong foreign sales should help Warner Bros. overcome the sting.

The weekend’s third wide release, “Epic,” topped expectations with an estimated $42,600,000 for the four-day and a per-theater average of $10,974. Tracking suggested an opening in the mid-30s, but the Blue Sky film had a plum release spot at the start of the tent pole season without any major family-friendly competition. Good reviews and an “A” CinemaScore suggest real legs, which means “Epic” could finish with more than $150 million domestically on a $93 million budget.

Last week’s “Star Trek Into Darkness” earned an estimated $44 million for the long weekend, which softens its second week drop to 33 percent and an overall domestic gross of $155.8 million. The well-reviewed but maligned sequel may not top the previous film’s gross of $257.7 million, but it should easily top $200 million. “Iron Man 3” earned an estimated $24,351,000, lifting its total domestic gross to $372.4 million. With a new director and a surge of post-“Avengers” buzz, the third “Iron Man” has already beaten the previous two installments and is on track for a domestic finish above $400 million.

In limited release, Richard Linklater’s critically-acclaimed romantic drama “Before Midnight” opened with a per-theater average of $64,400 at five theaters.

1. Fast & Furious 6 — $120 million

2. The Hangover Part III — $51.2 million

3. Star Trek Into Darkness — $47 million

4. Epic — $42.6 million

5. Iron Man 3 — $24.4 million

Check back next week when Will Smith’s post-apocalyptic “After Earth” opens against the Jesse Eisenberg thriller “Now You See Me.”

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