LOS ANGELES -- Fate has spoken. Universal's latest addition to The Fast and the Furious franchise, The Fate of the Furious, is what audiences worldwide want to see as the film's weekend debut is projected to be the biggest global opening of all time.
Fate, (aka Furious 8) brought in about $99 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters, below analyst projections. Still, it's the second-biggest domestic opening of the year, behind Beauty and the Beast's $175 million bow. It's also the second-biggest debut of the franchise, behind its 2015 predecessor.
Combined with the film's massive international opening of $432.3 million -- well above the amount analysts initially projected -- Furious 8 surpassed Star Wars: The Force Awakens' record-setting $529 million worldwide opening with $532.5 million.
"Across all subcultures, the movie found a home in every market in the world at a point when moviegoing is at its peak," said Duncan Clark, the studio's head of international distribution. "All the stars aligned."
Nick Carpou, Universal's domestic distribution chief, added: "We're riding very high. These records are hard to beat, and here we are in that moment."
Since 2001, The Fast and the Furious has "evolved" from a B-movie about street racing in Los Angeles into one of Hollywood's biggest global franchises, tallying $3.9 billion in worldwide box-office sales. Its diverse cast -- with Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson and Michelle Rodriguez and new antagonist Charlize Theron -- James Bond-style stunts and themes of brotherly love are credited with drawing a healthy mix of moviegoers who've been loyal to the franchise for 16 years and counting.
The series' high-water mark came two years go with the release of Furious 7, which opened to $147 million in tickets sales in the United States and Canada. Its follow-up, however, was not projected to beat Furious 7 in its debut. The prior movie was the last to feature longtime star Paul Walker, who died in a car crash before the movie wrapped production. Widespread curiosity stoked by the tragedy and the swelling of fan support for the picture, paired with widespread critical acclaim, propelled the film to new heights at the box office.
But Furious 8's success worldwide suggests Universal has incorporated lessons learned from the film's predecessors in its strategy. For example, Furious 7 grossed $245 million in foreign countries in its first weekend, for a global debut of $392 million. That total, however, didn't include China, the world's second-biggest movie market. This go-round, Furious 8 opened in China at the same time as North America, an automatic boost to its opening weekend numbers given the popularity of the previous movie in that country. (Furious 7 collected $390 million in Chinese ticket sales, pushing its global haul to $1.5 billion.)
Furious 8 opened No. 1 in every market where it was released in Universal's most ambitious global release to date, with the film playing in nearly 23,000 theaters around the world. It had Imax's biggest April worldwide opening ever and is now the fourth-biggest worldwide Imax opening of all time. The film's massive debut also marks the highest-grossing opening ever for a black director, F. Gary Gray.
"He is proving what a world class director he is to go from Straight Outta Compton to this, both masterfully directed," said Carpou.
And it's worth pointing out that people are enjoying the highly anticipated flick, following a year with a number of disappointing Hollywood sequels. Though critics on Rotten Tomatoes couldn't bring themselves to muster more than a 64 percent rating, moviegoers (58 percent male; 50 percent under 25) gave the picture an A CinemaScore.
The domestic audience was also diverse -- 41 percent of the audience members were white, and 59 percent were people of color (26 percent Hispanic, 19 percent black, 11 percent Asian and 3 percent other), according to Universal.
The film's success and its popularity with a diverse audience appears to answer the question of how much gas is left in the Fast and the Furious tank. Plenty, apparently -- which is good news for Universal, which is already planning two more movies for the franchise, scheduled for release in 2019 and 2021.
As for the rest of the box office, far behind in second place was DreamWorks Animation and 20th Century Fox's The Boss Baby, with $16 million in its third week. The family flick has packed its domestic crib with about $117 million to date.
Beauty and the Beast, the latest Disney remake, landed in third with about $14 million in its fifth week. The film passed the global $1 billion mark over the weekend ahead of its opening in Japan today.
In fourth was Columbia's Smurfs: The Lost Village with $6.7 million in its second week. The animated blue folk have pulled in about $25 million domestically to date.
Rounding out the top five was Warner Bros.' remake of Going in Style with about $6.3 million in its second week. The comedy directed at more mature audiences has grossed $23.3 million to date.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Sunday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Monday by comScore:
The Fate of the Furious, Universal, $98,786,705, 4,310 locations, $22,920 average, $98,786,705, 1 week.
The Boss Baby, 20th Century Fox, $16,012,349, 3,743 locations, $4,278 average, $116,793,579, 3 weeks.
Beauty and the Beast, Disney, $13,705,122, 3,592 locations, $3,815 average, $454,720,873, 5 weeks.
Smurfs: The Lost Village, Columbia, $6,714,300, 3,610 locations, $1,860 average, $24,945,059, 2 weeks.
Going in Style, Warner Bros., $6,288,402, 3,076 locations, $2,044 average, $23,318,880, 2 weeks.
Gifted, Fox Searchlight, $3,079,308, 1,146 locations, $2,687 average, $4,449,330, 2 weeks.
Get Out, Universal, $2,985,945, 1,424 locations, $2,097 average, $167,615,960, 8 weeks.
Power Rangers, Lionsgate, $2,814,175, 2,171 locations, $1,296 average, $80,527,923, 4 weeks.
The Case for Christ, Pure Flix, $2,758,271, 1,386 locations, $1,990 average, $8,485,975, 2 weeks.
Kong: Skull Island, Warner Bros., $2,707,371, 2,018 locations, $1,342 average, $161,284,775, 6 weeks.
Ghost in the Shell, Paramount, $2,463,906, 2,135 locations, $1,154 average, $37,087,189, 3 weeks.
The Zookeeper's Wife, Focus Features, $2,023,845, 1,057 locations, $1,915 average, $10,626,800, 3 weeks.
Logan, 20th Century Fox, $1,937,295, 1,415 locations, $1,369 average, $221,656,574, 7 weeks.
Your Name, FUNimation Films, $736,113, 290 locations, $2,538 average, $3,372,170, 2 weeks.
The Shack, Lionsgate, $654,814, 1,048 locations, $625 average, $56,078,874, 7 weeks.
Life, Columbia, $632,193, 605 locations, $1,045 average, $28,591,649, 4 weeks.
Colossal, Neon Rated, $462,869, 98 locations, $4,723 average, $616,344, 2 weeks.
The Lego Batman Movie, Warner Bros., $376,681, 344 locations, $1,095 average, $173,818,349, 10 weeks.
Their Finest, STX Entertainment, $346,779, 52 locations, $6,669 average, $460,569, 2 weeks.
Split, Universal, $281,095, 128 locations, $2,196 average, $137,827,505, 13 weeks.
MovieStyle on 04/21/2017
Print Headline: It's Fate that rules the cineplexes