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‘Fast X’ races to first despite mostly mixed reviews

by DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE PRESS SERVICES | May 26, 2023 at 1:47 a.m.
Vin Diesel, a family man, is shown in an explosive scene from “Fast X,” the series’ 10th installment. (Universal Pictures via AP)

The 10th installment of the "Fast and Furious" franchise was off to the races last weekend, knocking "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" out of first place and easily claiming the No. 1 spot at the box office. "Fast X" earned $67.5 million in ticket sales from 4,046 North American theaters, according to estimates from Universal Pictures on Sunday.

It's on the lower end of openings for the series which peaked with "Furious 7's" $142.2 million premiere, the sole movie in the series to surpass $100 million out of the gates. "Fast X's" domestic debut only ranks above the first three. The last movie, "F9," opened to $70 million in 2021.

But this is also a series that has usually made the bulk of its money internationally, often more than 70%. True to form, overseas it's on turbo drive. "Fast X" opened in 84 markets internationally, playing in more than 24,000 theaters, where it earned an estimated $251.4 million. The top market was China with $78.3 million, followed by Mexico with $16.7 million. And it adds up to a $319 million global debut -- the third biggest of the franchise.

"It's a global franchise with a very broad audience," said Jim Orr, Universal's head of domestic distribution. "The themes resonate across the world."

Directed by Louis Leterrier (who took over from Justin Lin during production), "Fast X" brings back the familiar crew including Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson and Jordana Brewster and adds several newcomers, like Brie Larson, Rita Moreno and a villain played by Jason Momoa. The ever-expanding cast also includes Jason Statham, Charlize Theron, Scott Eastwood and Helen Mirren.

Reports say the movie cost $340 million to produce, not including marketing.

Reviews were mixed for "Fast X," the beginning of the end for the $6 billion franchise, which currently has a 54% on Rotten Tomatoes. AP's Mark Kennedy wrote in his review that, "It has become almost camp, as if it breathed in too much of its own fumes" and that it's also "monstrously silly and stupidly entertaining."

"The problems with 'Fast X' exist on a more structural story level," wrote film critic Katie Walsh for Tribune News Service. "It feels like Leterrier and the writers are just digging up loose familial relations and celebrity cameos and throwing characters together for the heck of it, tossing Oscar-winning actresses (count 'em: four) in the audience's face to create a distraction from the other weaknesses in the script."

In its third weekend, Disney and Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" made an estimated $32 million in North America to take second place. It has now made $266.5 million domestically and $659.1 million globally.

Third place went to another Universal juggernaut, "The Super Mario Bros. Movie," which is now in its seventh weekend and available to rent. Nevertheless, it earned an additional $9.8 million in North America, bringing its domestic total to $549.3 million.

"Book Club: The Next Chapter" added $3 million in its second weekend to take fourth place, while "Evil Dead Rise" rounded out the top five in its fifth weekend with $2.4 million.

"Mario" and "Fast X" are just the latest success stories for Universal, following hits like "Cocaine Bear" and "M3GAN." And later this summer, on July 21, they'll release Christopher Nolan's "Oppenheimer."

"Universal as a studio is just on a roll like no other by having this incredible slate of films from all different types of genres," said Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for Comscore. "They've created a release strategy that's really picture perfect so far."

"Fast X" doesn't have an entirely open runway though. This weekend there will be sizable competition in Disney's live-action "The Little Mermaid," in addition to a slew of crowd-pleasers hoping to catch a Memorial Day weekend audience, including Julia Louis-Dreyfus in "You Hurt My Feelings " and the broad comedy "About My Father," with Sebastian Maniscalco and Robert De Niro.

This weekend, besides "The Little Mermaid" remake, audiences can see Open Road Films' "Kandahar," Columbia Pictures' "The Machine" and Lionsgate's "About My Father."

  photo  This image released by Universal Pictures shows Vin Diesel in a scene from "Fast X." (Peter Mountain/Universal Pictures via AP)
  photo  The logo of the movie is displayed at the red carpet of the world premiere of the film 'Fast X' in Rome, Friday, May 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
  photo  This image released by Universal Pictures shows Vin Diesel, left, and Daniela Melchior in a scene from "Fast X." (Peter Mountain/Universal Pictures via AP)
  photo  This image released by Universal Pictures shows, clockwise from left, Michelle Rodriguez, Sung Kang, Nathalie Emmanuel, Vin Diesel, Leo Abelo Perry, Rita Morena, Jordana Brewster, Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson in a scene from "Fast X." (Peter Mountain/Universal Pictures via AP)
  photo  Jordana Brewster poses for photographers upon arrival at the world premiere of the film 'Fast X' in Rome, Friday, May 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
  photo  Actor Vin Diesel poses flanked by Meadow Rain Walker upon arrival at the world premiere of the film 'Fast X' in Rome, Friday, May 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Print Headline: ‘Fast X’ races to first despite mostly mixed reviews


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