Furious sequel revs up record opening

The Fate of the Furious roared to a record-setting global debut over Easter weekend, making US$532 million (S$743 million).

LOS ANGELES • The Fate Of The Furious is on track to have the biggest global opening of all time even as its North American revenue hits a pothole.

Universal Pictures' eighth chapter in the pulpy carracing franchise, which stars Vin Diesel, was released in 63 countries last weekend, including China and Russia, bringing its worldwide total to an estimated US$532.5 million (S$742 million). That sets it up to beat Star Wars: The Force Awakens, whose 2015 international release brought in US$529 million, according to comScore, which compiles ticketing data.

Fate benefited from arriving in China to a jaw-dropping US$190 million, the biggest opening weekend there ever, while The Force Awakens did not premiere there until a month after its global release, said comScore media analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

In North America, Fate took in US$100.2 million, 32 per cent less than its predecessor, Furious 7 (2015). Even so, the newest instalment, which cost at least US$350 million to make and market worldwide, had one of the best domestic opening weekends on record for an April release.

In Singapore, where the movie is called Fast & Furious 8, it topped the box office over the weekend, grossing $3.97 million since opening last Thursday on 124 screens.

While Hollywood has been dominated by superhero movies, the Furious franchise has been able to carve out a niche in the action genre with a diverse cast and global appeal. At least two more movies are planned. The franchise has come a long way since 2001, when the first street-racing bromance, The Fast And The Furious, was a sleeper hit.

There were a few false starts (the 2003 and 2006 sequels), before Fast & Furious (2009) reconvened the original cast and Fast Five (2011) turned things around. Furious 7 became supercharged by the death of one of the franchise's best-known stars, Paul Walker, in an off-set car accident before the film's release.

In Fate - with F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton, 2015) directing an ensemble cast joined by Charlize Theron and Helen Mirren for the first time - the grand finale features a car chase on an ice field, a remotely operated submarine and a heat-seeking missile.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2017, with the headline 'Furious sequel revs up record opening'. Print Edition | Subscribe