Fate of the Furious Leaves Box-Office Competitors in the Dust
“The Fate of the Furious” easily outsped the competition in its box-office debut, becoming the biggest global movie opening of all time after setting a weekend record in China for a new film even as its North American revenue missed estimates.
Universal Pictures’ eighth installment from the franchise, which stars Vin Diesel, was released in 63 countries this weekend, including China and Russia, delivering a worldwide total of about $532 million. That beat “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” whose 2015 international release brought in $529 million, according to ComScore Inc.
The car-chase film’s international debut was four times bigger than the opening of an estimated $98.9 million in the U.S. and Canada. The film benefited from opening in China in its first weekend, while “The Force Awakens” didn’t premiere in that country until a month after its first global release, said Paul Dergarabedian, a media analyst at ComScore. And while the Star Wars movie brought in more than double what “The Fate” did domestically in its first weekend, its overseas opening was was more in line with sales at home.
In China, where the franchise has a huge fan base, “The Fate” fetched the highest ever three-day opening weekend, grossing 1.33 billion yuan ($192 million), almost double the size of North America opening, according to Universal. That’s also the fastest a film has ever passed the 1 billion yuan mark — the threshold for a hit in China. Previous record-holder, “The Mermaid,” took four days to reach that mark.
“It’s just amazing how well-received this franchise is all over the world,” especially in China, said Paul Sweeney, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. “It’s a franchise that kind of sneaks up on people — they don’t necessarily think about it in the same breath as Star Wars or other bigger franchises. But this is the eighth installment and every single one has been just exceptionally successful.”
“The Fate” was the only new release of the weekend. The movie had been estimated to open at $118 million to $127 million in North America, according to analysts at BoxOfficePro.com and Hollywood Stock Exchange.
Twentieth Century Fox’s animated “The Boss Baby” returned in second place with $16 million, beating a BoxOfficePro forecast of $15.8 million. Walt Disney Co.’s live action adaptation “Beauty and the Beast” added an estimated $13.7 million to the $1 billion it has generated in ticket sales globally. It was forecast to place third and add $14 million, according to the analysts.
The success of “The Fate” proves Comcast Corp.’s Universal can continue to count on Vin Diesel and his crew of gearheads to produce reliable hits, even without one of the lead actors, Paul Walker, who died in an unrelated accident during production of the previous “Furious 7” film. While Hollywood has been dominated more and more by superhero movies, “The Fast and The Furious” has been able to carve out a niche in the action genre with a diverse cast that has appealed to a global audience. At least two more movies are planned.
The new picture is the costliest so far, with a budget of $250 million, according to Box Office Mojo, almost double the price of some of the earlier installments. It opened in about 4,300 theaters, which the studio described as the widest non-summer release in North America and its most ambitious.
Before “The Fate of the Furious” was released, the series had already generated $3.9 billion globally, according to Box Office Mojo. “Furious 7,” which reaped $147 million in North America in its opening weekend, still ranks as the biggest April debut on record and the sixth-highest-grossing movie worldwide of all time.
F. Gary Gray, whose credits include the surprise hit “Straight Outta Compton” for Universal Pictures, directs a cast that includes Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham and several other actors reprising their roles, including Chris “Ludacris” Bridges. Charlize Theron and Helen Mirren joined the line-up for the first time.
The film has the usual elaborate car chases, this time through the streets of Cuba and across a frozen lake. It was the first major Hollywood picture to shoot in that country in more than 60 years, according to the studio. Diesel reprises the role of car racer Dominic, now married and retired. But Dom encounters a villain named Cipher (played by Theron) who tries to seduce him into a world of crime, setting the team up for a new fight.
The feature scored 65 percent positive reviews, according to aggregator Rottentomatoes.com. The recent installments have improved in quality, receiving much higher scores with critics than the first four films.