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‘Hobbs & Shaw’ Box Office: Vin Diesel Wins?

The ‘Fast & Furious’ spinoff gave the franchise its worst opening weekend since ‘Tokyo Drift.’
Hobbs And Shaw Same Height
Universal Pictures
By  · Published on August 5th, 2019

There are now three Fast & Furious movies that don’t star Vin Diesel. One of them, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift does feature a cameo from the actor, but that, 2 Fast 2 Furious, and now Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw make up one-third of the franchise that doesn’t revolve around his lead character, Dominic Toretto. As it now turns out, the three non-Diesel-fueled installments are also among the least popular of the nine-film series.

Does that mean Diesel is the winner of his notorious feud with Hobbs & Shaw star Dwayne Johnson? In a way, sure. The spinoff underperforming means Diesel hasn’t received a figurative pummeling — and not looking vulnerable is a big deal to these guys  — but then again, Diesel shouldn’t hope for any of the Fast & Furious movies, even those he’s not in, to fail. Unless he can be certain that he’s the true draw and will bring the audience back up.

Here’s a ranking of the franchise by opening-weekend domestic ticket sales (an asterisk means Vin Diesel is NOT one of the stars of the movie):

1. Furious 7 (2015) – 17.1 million
2. Fast & Furious 6 (2013) – 11.6 million
3. The Fate of the Furious (2017) – 11 million
4. Fast Five (2011) – 10.7 million
5. Fast and Furious (2009) – 9.5 million
6. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)* – 8.4 million
7. The Fast and the Furious (2001) – 7.1 million
8. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)* – 6.7 million
9. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)* – 3.7 million

Somehow the spinoff that seemed so appealing to many, whether they’re hardcore Fast & Furious fans alike, debuted with a smaller audience than every other installment save for the one that was supposed to be released direct-to-video. Universal put Hobbs & Shaw on more screens than any of the others save for the last main installment, The Fate of the Furious, which also had a relatively disappointing opening.

Back in early June, Box Office Pro shared a long-range forecast based on tracking at the time. They predicted Hobbs & Shaw could gross as much as $115 million in its first three days, the equivalent of 12.8 million tickets, which would be a franchise second best. The site predicted $100 million. Last week, they amended their guess for $66 million amidst a range that went as high as $75 million. The real figure of $60 million, is still much lower.

At least this is one of those franchises that does a lot better overseas, right? Sure, and the $180.8 global opening (including the domestic gross) for Hobbs & Shaw isn’t too bad. Except when you recall that two years ago The Fate of the Furious broke the record for worldwide debuts with $541.9 million. That status has since been overtaken, but it’s still currently third-best of all time. And Furious 7 is 10th. Hobbs & Shaw comes in at number 86. And yes, that’s from it debuting in the same number of foreign markets as The Fate of the Furious: 63.

Is there something fans were hearing about the new movie that kept them away this time? Going by the Tomatometer at Rotten Tomatoes, reviews for Hobbs & Shaw were the worst since 2009’s Fast & Furious, which was the last (and fourth straight) installment of the franchise to have a rotten score (with the lowest, 29%). But Hobbs & Shaw‘s barely fresh 66% is still on par with The Fate of the Furious (67%) and Fast & Furious 6 (70%). Only Fast Five (77%) and Furious 7 (81%) were certified fresh by the site.

As for the reception from moviegoers, Hobbs & Shaw is on the lower end of satisfaction. The original Fast and the Furious movie earned a B+ grade from opening-night audiences via Cinemascore, and the franchise has never dipped so low since. But the next few installments, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Tokyo Drift, and Fast & Furious, were graded A- followed by the next four, Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6, Furious 7, and The Fate of the Furious each pulling up the curve with A grades. Hobbs & Shaw is the first in a decade to drop the franchise back to an A-.

Whether fans were less interested or less appeased by the lack of Vin Diesel is indeterminable. More likely are the issues with Hobbs & Shaw‘s ridiculous story, even by Fast & Furious franchise standards, and its general divergence from the main series’ focus on cars, heists, and butt shots. There is at least one gratuitous butt shot in Hobbs & Shaw but for a certain crowd, it also may be too jokey about masculinity and give too much credit the scene-stealing heroine (Vanessa Kirby), who stands out as greater than either titular star.

In other box office news, while Universal can’t be fretting too much about Hobbs & Shaw (the franchise shall continue, first with part nine of the main series next year and then probably still a Hobbs & Shaw sequel), the studio can be especially glad that Yesterday is proving to be a steady hit, holding onto sixth place over the weekend. On its heels, though, is The Farewell, which continues to climb up the chart while still only in limited release.

Luce, the indie family drama starring Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, and Kevin Harrison Jr., as the former two’s adopted son, had the best per-screen average of the weekend, grossing $133K in just five locations. Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale and the documentary Jay Myself also had great openings based on their screen averages, all of them better than Hobbs & Shaw, which led wide releases for per-theater numbers.

Here are the weekend’s top 12 domestic release titles by the estimated number of tickets sold with new and newly wide titles (and still-limited titles) in bold and totals in parentheses:

1. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw – 6.7 million (6.7 million)
2. The Lion King – 4.3 million (47.9 million)
3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – 2.2 million (8.8 million)
4. Spider-Man: Far From Home – 0.88 million (40 million)
5. Toy Story 4 – 0.82 million (45.5 million)
6. Yesterday – 0.274 million (7.5 million)
7. The Farewell – 0.268 million (0.8 million)
8. Crawl – 0.243 million (4 million)
9. Aladdin – 0.236 million (38.9 million)
10. Annabelle Comes Home – 0.098 million (7.9 million)
11. The Secret Life of Pets 2 – 0.082 million (17.2 million)
12. Stuber – 0.06 million (2.4 million)

All non-forecast box office figures via Box Office Mojo.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.