“Furious” was phenomenal.
The seventh installment of the “Fast and Furious” franchise, titled simply “Furious 7,” opened to an estimated $143.6 million in the U.S. and Canada, firmly establishing it among Hollywood’s most successful franchises.
That’s the biggest opening ever for a film not based on a comic book or young adult novel. It’s also 47% higher than the opening of “Fast & Furious 6,” which grossed $97.4 million on its first weekend in May of 2013.
Combined with $240.4 million from 63 foreign markets , “Furious 7,” took in $384 million around the world. And it has yet to debut in the biggest box office market outside of the U.S.: China.
Despite a production budget of nearly $200 million and a hefty marketing campaign, the movie is on track to be very profitable for Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures.
With no other big budget “tentpoles” opening until “Avengers: Age of Ultron” on May 1, “Furious 7” will likely dominate the box office for the rest of the month. A global gross of more than $1 billion is very possible.
From its modest origins as a genre film about street racing in 2001, “Fast and Furious” has grown into the rarest species in modern Hollywood: a blockbuster franchise not based on a comic book, toy, or book series. Larger and larger global audiences have embraced not just the movies’ increasingly impressive and ridiculous car stunts, but the tight knit cast that includes Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and the late Paul Walker.
The movie was rewritten to serve as a send-off for Mr. Walker’s character when he died during production in late 2013, causing the release to be delayed from last July.
As has been true of previous “Furious” films, the domestic audience for “Furious 7” was very diverse. 37% of moviegoers were Hispanic, according to exit polling. 25% were White, 24% African-American, and 10% Asian-American.
An eighth installment is as certain as the sky staying blue. Following Mr. Walker’s death, however, Universal has yet to decide on the next sequel’s creative direction or schedule a release date for it.
By Ben Fritz