erik lundegaard


Sunday April 05, 2015

Easter Weekend Box Office: 'Fast & Furious' Franchise Has Risen to $143 Million Opening

18. And “Furious 7” came and spake unto them, saying, All money is given unto me in America and abroad. 
19. Go ye therefore, and take from all nations, schnookering them in the name of the Diesel, and of the Rock, and of the Holy Ghost (Paul Walker).
— The Gospel According to Hollywood, Chapter 28

Yesterday I wrote about the box office of “Furious 7” based upon Friday's one-day totals, which ranked 10th all-time in terms of one-day moviegoing moola: $67 million. 

Now the weekend estimates are in, and the seventh installment in the Fast & Furious franchise has more than doubled that Friday number, pulling in $143.6 million. 

Where does that rank? It's the best April opening by far, besting “Captain America: Winter Soldier,” which grossed $95 million during the first weekend of April 2014. It's also the 9th-best opening weekend in history, behind only superheroes (Avengers, Iron Man, Batman and Spider-Man), Harry Potter (last installment) and Katniss (first two installments).

This for a franchise that seemed dead (or at least Tokyo-drifting) in 2006. What happened?

As I mentioned yesterday, it got its original stars back (Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez), piled on popular and pumped-up bald men (The Rock, Jason Stratham), gave us plenty of hot international chicks (Gal Gadot, Israel; Nathalie Emmanuel, UK), and kept the cars moving and things getting blowed up. It also kept veering from reality into an almost superhero realm—for car dudes rather than nerds. 

As a result, its opening weekends kept rising: from $71 million for “Fast and Furious” in 2009, to $86 million for “Fast Five” in 2011, to $97 for “Fast and Furious 6” in 2013.

But why the gigantic leap into superhero territory for this one?

A couple of guesses:

  • The publicity surrounding the death of star Paul Walker. This is the last “Fast and Furious” with him in it. 
  • The insane stunt of parachuting cars out of a plane to attack a prison transport vehicle. It's idiotic but generated buzz akin to the “blowing up the White House” in the trailers for “Independence Day.”
  • The shitty year in movies so far. 

So far, 2015 box office has been like the old Elvis Presley song: girls girls girls. The popular movies have been “Cinderella,” “Fifty Shades,” “Divergent.” The testosterone-y films haven't exactly pumped America up. “Kingsman”? Skinny Brits in skinny suits. And sure, Liam Neeson, but how many times are people going to attack his family before they get smart about it? There was nothing to get dudes off the couch and into the theaters. Until this.

And it's not just an American phenomenon. “Furious 7” has already grossed $240 million abroad for a worldwide total of $384 million. Can this gearhead flick do $1 billion worldwide before it's done? Very likely. “Fast and Furious 6” grossed $788 worldwide, and wasn't jumpstarted as this one was. 

Elsewhere, “Cinderella” passed “Fifty Shades” as the most popular domestic movie of 2015 ($167 to $165), but “Furious 7” will leave both in the dust by Friday, if not sooner.

20. And lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. 

Posted at 09:32 AM on Sunday April 05, 2015 in category Movies - Box Office