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April 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

On the calendar, summer officially begins more than a month and a half from now, but so far as Universal Pictures is concerned, it begins this weekend. “Summer Starts Early” is the slogan the studio is using to usher in Fast Five, a movie requiring the accompaniment of popcorn, starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson and Dwayne Johnson. “”My deepest hope is that this is the first movie in a summer that can turn around all the negativity that’s been out there about the box office,” Nikki Rocco, president of domestic distribution for Universal Pictures, told today’s (Friday) Los Angeles Times. The “negativity” she refers to is the 20-percent decline in ticket sales so far this year. Some box-office forecasters are predicting that the movie will earn $70-75 million this weekend, almost twice what Rio, the highest-grossing movie of the year so far, earned earlier this month. Universal itself is predicting that it will earn $60 million. Two other films are opening wide this weekend, but neither one is expected to make much of an impression. Disney’s tween movie Prom is expected to earn about $8-12 million, while the 3D animated Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs. Evil is expected to take in a little less.