Box Office: Furious 7 Explodes Into Theaters With $384 Million Worldwide, Registers 9th-Best Domestic Opening All Time

The story of the weekend was the performance of Furious 7. Early expectations had it finishing Easter weekend between $115-$125 million. It almost had $115 million by the end of Saturday night, when taking into consideration how much it made when it opened Thursday night. With a $143 million opening, not only did Universal’s action franchise set a new record for an April release, the weekend haul ranks ninth in all-time opening grosses, in between Spider-Man 3 and Twilight: New Moon. Now people are prognosticating that the seventh entry in the ultra-successful Fast & Furious franchise could make $1 billion worldwide. If that were to happen, the movie would need at least $325 million domestically and another $700 million internationally (overseas this weekend it made $240 million). This is my own guess on the rationale that international grosses account for at least two-thirds of all major blockbusters.

Considering that Furious 7 hasn’t opened in China, Russia or Japan, it could very well make it to a billion. Because it has no major competition until the arrival of Marvel’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Speaking of Marvel, Furious 7’s $143 million weekend beat previous record holder Captain America: The Winter Soldier by almost $50 million. Much of the box-office success of Universal’s franchise is on account for the makeup of viewing audience. Because the cast is multiethnic, a majority of those that saw Vin Diesel and Paul Walker take on Jason Statham were people of color. And in terms of gender, the audience was evenly split.

While myself and Scott Sawitz disagree about the film (I enjoyed it while he hated it), I think even with the success of the film it should be the last in the series. But I know Universal won’t let that happen. After all, the series almost went the American Pie route with a bunch of DTV budget releases. Yet, even the critically and fan maligned The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift made over $150 million worldwide on name alone.

Vin Diesel has already hinted that an eighth installment is all but expected with an emphasis of Kurt Russell’s Mr. Nobody character. And with news that Helen Mirren has shown an interest in being in a future sequel (as Jason Statham and Luke Evans’s mom, perhaps?) who knows what direction the series will take.

Outside of the record opening the rest of the top 10 looks tame by comparison. DreamWorks Animation’s Home dropped to second place with $27.4 million after debuting with $54 million. The animation studio has had problems of late with their costly animation projects not being super hits. Last year’s Penguins of Madagascar made $368.8 million versus a $132 million budget. Mr. Peabody & Sherman, another DWA title, $272 million earned vs. $145 million budget.

So much for the dynamic comic duo of Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart. Get Hard dropped hard in its second week by more than 61%. The $40 million comedy has grossed $57 million domestically. I don’t think it will be embraced by audiences overseas. Disney’s live-action Cinderella has become a huge hit with close to $400 million worldwide after four weeks.

Unlike Forbes‘ Scott Mendelson who indicated that It Follows was a bust when it went to wide release in its third week, I briefly acknowledged that it was indeed a hit. Especially if you consider its advertising costs versus a studio release. RadiusTWC actually postponed the VOD date based on how well it performed in limited release. The decision to expand had it finish in the top five, above Liam Neeson’s Run All Night, which was also in its third week. Neeson’s movie has since dropped to 12th, made $25.7 million vs. a $50 million budget (not including marketing), while It Follows has had little television advertising, has no notable stars and has made a third of Neeson’s supposed last action role.

The other new release was The Weinstein Company’s Woman In Gold, counterprogramming to the fuel-injected franchise. Opening on 258 screens it collected $2 million. After eight weeks in release, Kingsman: The Secret Service is still in the top 10 and is closing in on $400 million. This is good news on a number of fronts. First it means that Matthew Vaughn can go ahead with a sequel should he desire. It is also a good sign for next year’s release of Deadpool. Why? Well, Kingsman opened Valentine’s Day weekend and carried a restricted rating. While it opened opposite Universal’s Fifty Shades of Grey, it has had more staying power as the weeks progressed. There was speculation that Deadpool would be PG-13, because of 20th Century Fox wanting to get the most out of its Marvel Comics property, but those speculations were laid to rest thanks to a video featuring Ryan Reynolds, Extra’s Mario Lopez and a special guest.

This weekend upcoming it is all about Nicholas Sparks’ The Longest Ride starring Scott Eastwood (yes, related to that “Eastwood”) and Britt Robertson, who will be co-starring with George Clooney in this summer’s Tomorrowland. Expect an easy repeat for Furious 7 with at least $55 million.

Full Top 10 below.

01. Furious 7 — $143,623,000
02. Home — $27,400,000 ($95,621,000)
03. Get Hard — $12,925,000 ($57,004,000)
04. Cinderella — $10,289,000 ($167,251,000)
05. The Divergent Series: Insurgent — $10,000,000 ($103,385,000)
06. It Follows — $2,465,000 ($8,541,000)
07. Woman in Gold — $2,004,000 ($2,100,000)
08. Kingsman: The Secret Service — $1,700,000 ($122,260,000)
09. Do You Believe? — $1,500,000 ($9,811,000)
10. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel — $1,000,000 ($30,059,000)

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