Fate of the Furious has a record global debut

The eighth installment in the Fast and the Furious franchise is on the path to becoming the biggest worldwide debut of all time, besting both Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Jurassic World.

Universal Pictures estimated that The Fate of the Furious would earn a record US$532.5 million (NZ$760m) worldwide over the holiday weekend, thanks to a particularly robust showing in 63 territories, including China.

If the figures hold, it will just inch past the previous record holder, Star Wars: The Force Awakens which launched to US$529 million in December of 2015 without China.

The film broke the record for biggest international weekend ever, with US$432.3 million. The previous record holder was Jurassic World with US$316.7 million.

"There is no market that hasn't had a strong reception," said Duncan Clark, Universal's president of international distribution.

"Whatever culture, whatever language, whatever country, we seem to have found a home."

The China opening alone brought in a record US$190 million followed by US$17.8 million from Mexico and US$17 million from the UK and Ireland.

An estimated US$100.2 million of the global total comes from 4310 North American theaters - a second best for the franchise and enough to easily top the domestic charts, but well below the US$147.2 million opening of Furious 7 in 2015.

Furious 7 had a groundswell of additional interest due to the death of actor Paul Walker, who played cop turned street racer Brian O'Conner, a lead character in six of the films. He died in a car crash while the film was still in production.

For the studio, Fast 8 stands on its own as being "an extraordinary result".

"Each one of these films has its own momentum," said Nick Carpou, Universal's president of domestic distribution. "There are factors from one film to the next that make them unique and certainly there were unique factors with Furious 7."

The Fate of the Furious has many of the returning stars like Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese and Ludacris, but has added some new elements behind the camera in director F Gary Gray and in front of the camera with Charlize Theron.

The US$100.2 million is slightly below analyst expectations for the film. Audiences were 58 percent male, 50 percent under the age of 25 and diverse (41 percent were Caucasian, 26 percent Hispanic and 19 percent African American).

The studio has not released an official production budget, but it is reported to be in the pricey $250 million range. However, an A Cinema Score from exit polls suggest that it will have sufficient staying power.

The Fast and the Furious is a global juggernaut for Universal Pictures, which plans two additional pictures. With the addition of Fast 8, the franchise has earned an estimated US$4.4 billion globally.

"It is a franchise that has adapted and changed over the years and is as relevant in 2017 as it was in 2001," noted Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for comScore.

"The Furious franchise perfectly represents what that global audience is all about. They're poised perfectly for installments 9 and 10 to do very well. It's still firing on all cylinders."

Top 10

1. The Fate of the Furious, US$432.3 million.
2. The Boss Baby, US$36.8 million.
3. Beauty and the Beast, US$22 million.
4. Smurfs: The Lost Village, US$16.4 million.
5. A Chinese Odyssey Part Two: Cinderella, US$12 million.
6. Ghost in the Shell, US$8.3 million.
7. Going in Style, US$4.3 million.
8. The Shack, US$4.1 million.
9. Kong: Skull Island, US$3.8 million.
10. Power Rangers, US$2.7 million.

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