The Fast & Furious 6 Profit Machine

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“Fast & Furious 6” brought in $122.2 million in North America over the Memorial Day weekend — a record for the period. Adding overseas, the figure was $366 million. The movie may have cost $150 million to make, so it is already profitable. And one of its competitors for the first place crown — “Hangover III” — likely has not. Sequels are not created equal. But “Fast & Furious 6” begs the question whether action films trump comedies based on heavy drinkers and frat humor.

Most evidence would suggest that the action genre has as advantage. The other blockbuster film of the spring is “Iron Man 3.” Behind that is a more modest hit — “Star Trek into Darkness.” The Star Trek franchise goes back to the 1960s TV show and Iron Man back to 1963. All three of the movies are sequels of sequels of sequels. But so was “Hangover III”, which leaves the only obvious advantage, again, of action over comedy.

The other piece of evidence for action over all other categories is historic. “Marvel’s The Avengers” is near the top of the all-time box office sales chart. So are films from the Batman, Mission: Impossible, Spider Man, Star Wars and movie elder statesman James Bond franchises.

There are odd alternative movies well up on the list: “Avatar,” “Titanic” Harry Potter films and “The Passion of the Christ.” Harry Potter had a genesis in books. The others stand out as one-offs. Every rule has to have exceptions. Or, as scientists say, an outlier. Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” likely is the most extreme case of a radical exception.

A look over which moves work and which do not prompts the question why any studio would make anything other than an action movie sequel, ever. Perhaps so that high-paid movie executives can keep their jobs.