One of the most intense showdowns at the box office this year will come on May 24 when Universal's Fast & Furious 6 opens against Warner Brothers' The Hangover: Part III. The two blockbusters will battle it out for coveted Memorial Day weekend dollars.
Thanks to a strong Super Bowl ad, Fast & Furious 6 has the upper hand. The Hangover: Part III won't benefit from a Super Bowl surge because WB doesn't rely on the power of "The Big Game." WB didn't advertise The Dark Knight, any of the Harry Potter films or Inception at the Super Bowl, and they still managed to rake in billions at the box office.
Yet this is one year when ignoring the Super Bowl could hurt WB. Even a small teaser for The Hangover: Part III would have helped even things out. There is plenty of audience overlap between Fast & Furious 6 and The Hangover: Part III--both films need males aged 18-49 to show up in droves. When so much depends on the interest of men, launching an ad campaign at the Super Bowl is a no-brainer.
Fast & Furious 6 already has two other big advantages: 1) more Facebook likes and 2) better buzz. The official Fast & Furious page has 24.1 million fans compared to 19.5 million for The Hangover franchise. This past week, Fast Five added more than 340,000 likes, and it's bound to surge again after the Super Bowl. As for the buzz, 2011's Fast Five invigorated the franchise and pleased old fans, while The Hangover: Part II was viewed by many as a weak retread of plot points from the first Hangover.
We'll keep a close eye on this match-up between now and Memorial Day.