By Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The action-packed sixth installment of the "Fast & Furious" film franchise claimed victory at the North American box office for the three-day U.S. Memorial Day weekend on Monday, and became the biggest opening film in Universal Pictures' history.
"Fast & Furious 6," starring Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson, grossed an estimated $120 million from Friday till Monday, making it the second-biggest film opening of the year behind Disney's "Iron Man 3's" $175.3 million earlier this month.
The film also rang up an estimated $300 million at the global box office.
Universal Pictures said "Fast & Furious 6" bested its predecessor in the series, "Fast Five," which previously held the title of best opening for the studio with $83.6 million at domestic theaters.
"Fast & Furious 6" also raced ahead of raunchy comedy "The Hangover Part III," the third and final installment of the comedy about four men trying to piece together the events of a wild night.
"Hangover," starring Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms as friends unwittingly drawn back to Las Vegas, made an estimated $51.2 million at the U.S. and Canada box office over the long weekend, keeping in line with studio projections.
The film also opened in its first three international markets over the weekend - United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand - grossing $19 million, bringing the total in the markets where it is showing to an estimated $70.2 million.
"Some might argue that we should have stopped at one, but we loved doing these movies and the audience has been there" for them, Todd Philips, the director of the "Hangover" franchise, told Reuters ahead of the film's release.
"The word 'hangover' ... is something that people share around the world. There are some comedies that are uniquely American, but hangovers exist for the world," he added.
Sci-fi action adventure sequel "Star Trek Into Darkness," playing in 3D and Imax theaters, came in at No. 3 at the domestic box office with $47 million from Friday to Monday, bringing its cumulative total to $155.8 million since opening on May 17.
Animated family film "Epic," about a secret world in which nature's inhabitants come together to fight evil forces, opened on Friday and has grossed an estimated $42.6 million domestically over the Memorial Day weekend.
Universal Pictures, a unit of Comcast Corp, released "Fast & Furious 6," Time Warner Inc's Warner Bros Studios distributed "The Hangover Part III," and "Star Trek Into Darkness" was released by Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc.
"Epic" was released by 20th Century Fox, a unit of News Corp.
(Editing by Philip Barbara)