You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Furious 7’ Races Toward Record Opening at Box Office

Furious 7” is barreling toward a record opening weekend, with tracking services predicting that the adventure film could debut to as much as $115 million.

The Universal sequel doesn’t premiere until April 3, but it seems to be benefiting from a number of factors — chief among them a lack of big-budget action films pegged at male audiences and the fact that “Furious 7” is Paul Walker’s last completed film before his 2014 death in a car crash.

“It’s going to blow up really big,” said Phil Contrino, VP and chief analyst with BoxOffice.com. “It’s similar to what we saw from ‘American Sniper’ and ‘Guardians of the Galaxy.’ Everybody wants to talk about the film and be able to discuss the ending and how they handled the Paul Walker situation.”

Walker’s death has generated the lion’s share of the headlines, and the film has turned into a memorial to his talent much as “The Dark Knight” allowed fans to pay tribute to Heath Ledger.

However, the film is also benefiting from recent action whiffs such as “Run All Night” and “The Gunman.” Female audiences have driven recent box office hits such as “Cinderella” and “Fifty Shades of Grey,” but with the exception of “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” little has resonated with male crowds. That should change with “Furious 7.”

If “Furious 7” hits estimates, it will easily be the top April debut of all time, trumping “Captain America: The Winter Soldier’s” $95 million bow, and a franchise-high, outgrossing “Fast & Furious 6’s” $97.4 million opening. Eric Handler, an analyst with MKM Partners, predicts the film could do $250 million domestically by the time it ends its run.

“It’s the first big blockbuster of the year, and it’s an established franchise,” said Handler, who noted that “Furious 7” has little competition until “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” debuts on May 1.

Ticket pre-sales have been robust, with Fandango reporting that “Furious 7” is outpacing the sixth “Fast & Furious” film at a similar point in its sales cycle, and MovieTickets.com saying the new film’s reservations are three times that of its predecessor. Some movie chains, such as Cinépolis, are already close to selling out prime weekend showtimes and expect to add extra screenings to meet demand.

“Moviegoers have grown up with the storyline and characters, so seeing the film is more than just another movie in a series,” said April Mendoza, marketing director of Cinépolis USA. “It’s about reliving your youth, seeing your heroes continue to succeed and saying goodbye to a beloved character and actor who you respected and loved.”

Others, such as B&B Theatres, fully expect to be at capacity when the film debuts given the reception given previous movies in the series.

“‘Fast & Furious’ has always been huge in our markets,” said Brock Bagby, director of programming and business development at B&B Theatres. “It’s always played better than even the national grosses would suggest. In smaller markets and in smaller towns, it’s bigger than the ‘Avengers’ or comic book movies.”

“Furious 7” cast members such as Ludacris and Vin Diesel have large social-media followings, which seem to be galvanizing fans on Facebook and Twitter. Tracking services report that online chatter around the film is intense, and the reactions to trailers and promotions have been largely positive.

“At this point in a series you’d expect some franchise fatigue, but that’s minimal,” said Jen Handley, co-creator of the social-media research firm Fizziology. “We’re seeing lots of excitement and lots of mentions of the release date. That level of specificity is important because it indicates intent to see.”

The volume of discussion surrounding the film is about 40% higher than it was for “Fast & Furious 6,” Fizziology reports, and many of the comments are emotional reactions related to Walker’s death. It also found that the film is tracking well with African-American and Hispanic crowds and is more appealing to women than most action films.

The diversity of the series, something reflected in the films’ multicultural cast, mirrors the audience it attracts, theater owners report.

“It has an interest across a wide range of people,” said Tom Stephenson, CEO of Look Cinemas. “It’s appealing pretty broadly. There’s a lot of built-up anticipation.”

More Film

  • HAF: 'Assassination,' 'Apprenticeship' Named Project Market

    HAF: 'Assassination,' 'Apprenticeship' Named Project Market Winners

    Eighteen prizes were presented on Wednesday afternoon at the closing ceremony of the Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum. The project market sits alongside FilMart as part of the Entertainment Expo in Hong Kong. “Wong Tai Sin Assassination” to be directed by Wong Hoi and produced by Derek Kwok Tsz-kin, was named the winner of [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Writers Guild Makes Concession on Film Financing in Agent Talks

    The Writers Guild of America has made a concession in film financing in its negotiations with Hollywood talent agents — the second in six weeks of talks. WGA West executive director David Young said Wednesday that it had made a “significant move” toward reaching a deal with the Association of Talent Agents for a revamped [...]

  • Noah Centineo He-Man

    Noah Centineo to Play He-Man in 'Masters of the Universe' Reboot

    From a boy (who’s loved) to He-Man. Noah Centineo is in talks to take on the superhero in Sony Pictures and Mattel Films’ “Masters of the Universe.” Brothers Adam and Aaron Nee are directing the reboot. Mattel Films is partnering with Sony on the movie, which is based on Mattel’s beloved toy line that spawned [...]

  • Disney Fox Takeover Placeholder

    Disney, Fox Employees Grapple With Day One Transition on Two Hollywood Lots

    What kind of a boss will Disney be? That’s a question facing employees at 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight, National Geographic Partners, FX Networks, and other assorted parts of Rupert Murdoch’s former media empire. Wednesday was their first full day as staffers of the Walt Disney Co. and the initial moves have done little to [...]

  • Derek Tsang Hong Kong actor Derek

    'Better Days' Director Derek Tsang Lands in World Cinema Spotlight

    Hong Kong actor-director Derek Kwok-cheung Tsang has recently found himself in the spotlight of the world of cinema, but for the wrong reason. Tsang will be joining a Hong Kong filmmakers panel at FilMart on Thursday with Sunny Chan (“Man on the Dragon”) and Pang Ho-cheung (“Love in a Puff”). The 39-year-old filmmaker was expecting [...]

  • Jen Hollingsworth Lionsgate

    Lionsgate Promotes Jen Hollingsworth to Chief Operating Officer of Motion Picture Group

    Lionsgate veteran executive Jen Hollingsworth has been promoted to the newly created post of chief operating officer of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group. She will work closely with Motion Picture Group chairman Joe Drake to ensure the film division’s strategic initiatives and corporate priorities encourage filmmakers’ artistic visions to thrive. Hollingsworth will also head up the [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Solstice Studios Boards Thriller 'Unhinged' From 'Disturbia' Writer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Solstice Studios has acquired “Unhinged,” a psychological thriller from “Disturbia” screenwriter Carl Ellsworth and “Warrior” producer Lisa Ellzey. The studio is currently out to directors. The script revolves around an extreme case of “road rage.” It’s the story of a mother whose decision to hit her horn upsets the wrong guy and leads to some [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content