Universal’s “The Fate of the Furious” smashed global box office records, earning an estimated $532.5 million worldwide to set a new high-water mark for an opening weekend.
The long-running series, now in its eighth installment, got a big boost from foreign crowds. The action thriller earned $432.3 million internationally after bowing in 63 foreign markets. That helped offset declining domestic results. “The Fate of the Furious” opened to $100.2 million in North America, a sharp drop from “Furious 7’s” $147.2 million kick-off.
It’s a sign that a franchise built around muscle cars and odes to the importance of family is growing more global in scope. If it wants to continue to expand its audience as it inevitably ticks through future sequels, it will need to keep building a fan base in places like China. To that end, the Middle Kingdom turbocharged results. “The Fate of the Furious” racked up a massive $190 million in the Asian country, setting records for the biggest three-day opening weekend in history and the top debut for a Hollywood film in China. “Furious 7” ended its run with $390 million from China — a figure that “The Fate of the Furious” could match.
“I’m extrapolating, but based on the reviews and the buzz we’re getting from theaters, I think we can eclipse that,” said Duncan Clark, president of Universal Pictures International.
It is worth noting, however, that Hollywood studios only take in 25% of Chinese ticket sales, roughly half of what they earn in most major markets. Still, the film business is breathing a sigh of relief after the results were released. Ticket sales in China have stalled in recent months after a period of seismic growth. Part of the issue has been a strengthening U.S. dollar, but aside from last year’s “Warcraft” and “Zootopia,” it has been months since Chinese crowds have embraced a big studio blockbuster.
“This is the jolt everybody needed,” said Greg Foster, CEO of Imax Entertainment. “It proves that if you provide some revved up entertainment for the [Chinese] market, they’ll turn up.”
“The Fate of the Furious” also performed solidly in Mexico, where it earned $17.8 million, the United Kingdom and Ireland with $17 million, Russia with $14.1 million, Germany with $13.6 million, and Brazil with $12.8 million. The film did well in premium formats, with Imax accounting for $31.1 million worth of revenue, the company’s fourth-biggest global opening.
“This is truly a global franchise,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at ComScore. “These movies translate perfectly into any culture. Fast cars, outrageous stunts — that’s the international language for something everybody loves.”
Of course, “The Fate of the Furious” can’t just be a hit. It has to be a blockbuster. All that vehicular destruction cost $250 million to put on screen. The latest installment brings back Vin Diesel as Dom Toretto, he of the monosyllable and tight-fitting t-shirts, and has the character betray his band of brothers and sisters in the service of a cyber terrorist (Charlize Theron). Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, and Kurt Russell help to round out the cast, with “Straight Outta Compton” director F. Gary Gray sliding behind the camera.
With “The Fate of the Furious,” the “Fast and the Furious” films have now earned $4.4 billion worldwide, making it easily the most successful franchise in Universal’s history and the eighth highest-grossing film series in history.