BBC - Business

Box Office: ‘F9’ Kicks Off Summer Movie Season With $162M Worldwide Debut

F9 essentially kicked off the 2021 summer movie season, except in China (and elsewhere) as opposed to North America. Justin Lin’s Fast & Furious 9, which pits Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto against his estranged/evil brother played by John Cena, earned $162.4 million in eight markets this weekend, which is exactly in line with pre-release expectations. The film earned $14 million in IMAX alone, becoming IMAX’s second-biggest May debut behind Captain America: Civil War’s worldwide launch in 2016. It is Universal’s third-biggest IMAX overseas debut ever after Jurassic World and Fate of the Furious. The $200 million actioner pushed the entire Fast Saga (now ten films and counting) past the $6 billion mark in raw global earnings, behind only Star Wars ($10.25 billion over 11 live-action flicks) for original cinematic franchises.

More so than any Hollywood franchise, The Fast Saga is *huge* in China, with Fate of the Furious and Furious 7 both earning $392 million in 2017 and 2015 respectively while Hobbs & Shaw became the last non-MCU Hollywood movie to earn $200 million in China back in August of 2019. F9 earned $135.6 million in China alone this weekend, including $59 million on Friday (including $9.17 million in midnight previews) and $48 million on Saturday. That’s the first $100 million-plus opening for a Hollywood flick in China since Avengers: Endgame in April of 2019. It was double Godzilla Vs. Kong’s $69 million launch two months ago, although that film’s strong $188 million finish shows that the MonsterVerse remains a “hot in China” Hollywood franchise even amid copious local blockbusters.

It earned $9.9 million in South Korea and a record $2.6 million opening weekend in Saudi Arabia (a relatively “new” marketplace for Hollywood flicks), as well as $2.4 million (Universal’s biggest opening ever) in Hong Kong. It also earned $8.2 million in Russia, a record for the pandemic-era, with 62 territories left to roll out over the next two months. That includes Australia on June 17, North America on June 25 and Germany, France and Spain in July. Needless to say, this is closer to the spaced-out worldwide launch of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (which earned $417 million domestic, $267 million in China and $1.308 billion worldwide in 2018) than the “everybody into the pool at once” $532 million global launch of Fate of the Furious in 2017.

China’s word-of-mouth isn’t so hot, with audience polling closer to Transformers: The Last Knight than Coco. We’ve seen with Detective Chinatown 3 ($685 million from a $398.5 million debut), Batman v Superman ($95 million/$55 million) and Warcraft ($218 million from a $90 million Wed/Thurs and $156 million Wed-Sun debut) that Chinese audiences are perfectly capable to showing up to and then rejecting big titles. We’re probably looking at a Chinese cume closer to Transformers: The Last Knight ($228 million) than Avengers: Infinity War ($356 million). That would be less of an issue amid a conventional worldwide release, but a recovered China was supposed to be a stop-gap for downturns in compromised markets. That said, with China offering up just 25% of the gross, the difference for Universal would be around $30 million.

I’d be more concerned about how word of mouth for F9 impacts Fast10. The news is mostly good, with hopes that the current territories are as leggy as Fate of the Furious ($1.236 billion divided by $532 million = 2.32x) for $375 million in just those territories. We’re probably not looking at the next $1 billion-plus global grosser (Spider-Man: No Way Home has the best shot at that benchmark in 2021), but Universal had no such expectations when they cemented F9 as the “Welcome back!” tentpole of the summer. It still shows that even amid a Chinese marketplace stacked with local tentpoles and blockbusters, the right Hollywood franchise can still pack the auditoriums. Not bad for a 20-year old franchise that started as a Point Break rip-off about DVD thieves.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button