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'Hangover Part III' bombing at the box office

'Hangover Part III' bombing at the box office
Zach Galifianakis, left, Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms in "The Hangover Part III." (Melinda Sue Gordon / Warner Bros.)

The "Hangover" franchise  is no longer a laughing matter.

The third -- and promised final -- installment in the booze-fueled exploits of the so-called Wolf Pack is bombing at the Memorial Day weekend box office, where it is being run over not only by "Fast & Furious 6" but also by the 3-D animated family film "Epic."

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When "The Hangover Part III" debuted late Wednesday, industry prognosticators were estimating that the sequel would gross about $80 million in its first five full days of release -- a steep drop from the $135 million the second movie made between Thursday and Monday in 2011, but a decent enough opening in absolute terms.

But early returns Friday suggested that the Warner Bros. "Hangover" film, which cost $103 million and was trashed by critics, could gross as little as $48 million in its five-day debut. The best-case estimates only have "The Hangover Part III" grossing about $55 million, well below the $80-million projection.

The new "Fast" film, on the other hand, is racing away from the competition. Industry estimates before the Universal movie debuted late Thursday showed that "Fast & Furious 6" could gross as much as $100 million in its first four full days in theaters. The $160-million sequel should hit that mark, early returns showed.

Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox's "Epic" is performing at the top end of, and even beyond, industry estimates.  The $100-million-plus family film is expected to gross as much as $50 million in its first four days in theaters.  "The Hangover Part III" over those same four days is projected to sell about $40 million in tickets.

Though the second "Hangover" movie grossed $586.8 million worldwide, the film was not received nearly as well as the 2009 original, which became a surprise word-of-mouth phenomenon. The new sequel reunites Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis in Las Vegas, where the franchise was launched.

Only 38% of the film's reviews were positive, according to Moviereviewintelligence.com. According to the review aggregation site, the first two "Hangover" films had reviews that respectively were  71% and 46% positive.

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