Most Furious ever
Walker's final film 9th highest opening
LOS ANGELES (AP):
The high-octane Furious 7 peeled out of the gates in its opening weekend, picking up a stunning US$143.6 million from 4,004 locations to easily top the domestic box office, according to Rentrak estimates on Sunday.
The expectation-shattering sum is a studio and franchise best for the home-grown car-obsessed series, which has continued to grow over the past few films.
Furious 7, now the ninth biggest opening of all time, also unseats previous April record holder Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which opened to US$95 million on the same weekend last year.
While the Fast and Furious (as the series is popularly known) films have grown in popularity over the past three films, the mega-opening for Furious 7 was also, at least, partially tied to audience interest in star Paul Walker, who died in a car crash in November 2013 before the film was completed.
Production on Furious 7 was halted while the film-makers and Universal decided whether to proceed with the movie. The team ultimately decided to delay the release from its originally scheduled July 2014 date.
"It probably created some curiosity, but, at the same time, (the film) fits in so well with the overall continuing saga of the Fast and Furious franchise," Nick Carpou, Universal's president of domestic distribution, said.
"It's a motivator, but it's not by any means the prime motivator to see the movie," he added about Walker.
There is also a sense that massive openings like Furious 7 point to the creeping expansion of the summer blockbuster season, which seems to be starting earlier and earlier as studios try to stake their claim on prime dates.
However, for Carpou, in a 52 week-a-year release strategy, the demarcation of a summer blockbuster is almost irrelevant when it comes to getting audiences to turn out in droves for a film. "It's that corny old adage that if you build it, they will come," he said, adding that the impressive February debut of Fifty Shades of Grey helps prove his point.
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box office firm Rentrak, thinks that this is a liberating trend for studios who once clamoured for the first weekend in May release date. "Studios are finding tremendous value in putting their movies in non-traditional corridors," he said.
As the most ambitious release in Universal's history, Furious 7 opened on 10,005 screens internationally as well, picking up US$240.4 million from 63 territories for a US$384 million worldwide debut - a 48 per cent increase over Fast & Furious 6.
The film will also debut in Russia, Poland, Japan, and China in the coming weeks.
Holdovers populated the rest of the top spots, with DreamWorks Animation's Home earning US$27.4 to take a distant second place. Get Hard brought in an estimated US$12.9 million, while Cinderella and The Divergent Series: Insurgent rounded out the top five with US$10.3 million and US$10 million.
But it's all about Furious 7 for the next few weeks. The film has the roads to itself until Disney and Marvel's The Avengers: Age of Ultro hits cinemas on May 1. "This could be the first in the franchise to flirt with the billion dollar mark," Dergarabedian said, respectively.
Following are estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at US and Canadian cinemas, according to Rentrak. Where available, the latest international numbers for the same time period are also included.
1. Furious 7, US$143.6m (US$240.4m international)
2. Home, US$27.4m (US$20.7m)
3. Get Hard, US$12.9m (US$2.6m)
4. Cinderella, US$10.3m ($24.3m)
5. The Divergent Series: Insurgent, US$10m ($15.5m)
6. It Follows, US$2.5m
7. Woman in Gold, US$2m
8. Kingsman: The Secret Service, US$1.7m (US$20m)
9. Do You Believe, US$1.5m
10. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, US$1m ($3m)
Following are estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international cinemas (excluding the US and Canada), according to Rentrak:
1. Furious 7, US$240.4m
2. Cinderella, US$24.3m
3. Wolf Warriors, US$22m
4. Home, US$20.7m
5. Kingsman: The Secret Service, US$20m
6. Let's Get Married, US$16m
7. The Divergent Series: Insurgent, US$15.5m
8. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, US$5.8m
9. Twenty, US$5.3m
10. Focus, US$4.9m.