The fate of the franchise is still in pretty good shape.
Sequels continue to disappoint at the box office this year, overall. Sure, there’s the John Wick: Chapter 2 exception, and both xXx: Return of Xander Cage and Logan at least just barely (and somewhat easily) topped their series’ previous efforts, but domestic flops include Underworld: Blood Wars, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, and T2: Trainspotting, while The Lego Batman Movie, Kong: Skull Island, Fifty Shades Darker, and now The Fate of the Furious all opened relatively low for their franchises in America.
Universal doesn’t have to worry about F8‘s $99m debut being far below the $147m opening of Furious 7 and just slightly under the $101m (adjusted for inflation) of Fast & Furious 6. Its global gross of $532m puts it not only much higher than F7’s $392m but also above Jurassic World ($526m) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($529m) to become holder of the new world record for the largest international opening of all time. That is in part thanks to its also-record-breaking $190m bow in China.
It’s no surprise the Fast and the Furious sequel did so well overseas, but it is a shocker it didn’t do even more worldwide. As late as last week, F8 was tracking to fall short of its predecessor but still open as high as $120m (Variety guessed better with “$100m and change”). Let’s not forget that Hollywood tries to lowball with these predictions, too. They missed the mark the other way with overseas numbers, expecting only $380m, with $400m being a dream. It blew past the latter for $433m outside the US.
The explanation for why F8 didn’t do as well as F7 is that Paul Walker’s death before the latter’s release pushed its appeal up so high. The explanation for why F8 opened so much higher overseas than F7 is not being addressed anywhere I’ve seen, but it is also simply explained: this time China’s figures are included. When F7 posted a nevertheless impressive $392m worldwide opening, it hadn’t yet released in China. That came a week later with an until-now record three-day total of $182m. Add that to the initial number, and you get $574m. More than F8’s total by $42m! If the new movie had performed as well domestically as the last, its record would actually be noteworthy. Put into perspective, it’s a rather empty bit of hype.
Of course, global box office is always tricky like that. It’s important to pay attention to what territories are included, especially with regards to China’s contribution. And obviously international records are going to keep breaking as more markets coincide with the US release and each other and also as more of those markets get bigger and bigger due to population growth combined with distribution growth, or just greater access for the people to see movies theatrically. Plus, inflation adjustments aren’t typically available with foreign numbers, so it’s difficult to compare past figures to today’s.
Regardless of the circumstances and the likelihood, how F8 does overall by the end of its run and how much higher above a billion dollars it goes (F7 topped out at $1.5b) will still be an interesting feat to watch for. If it not only opens better than Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens but also finishes higher than those movies and The Avengers, that’s a remarkable achievement, considering its rise as a franchise and its lack of built-in brand merchandising strength compared to its competition.
So far, with the exception of Tokyo Drift, the Fast and the Furious movies have incrementally performed better with each installment, domestically (unadjusted — when inflation is considered, it goes 3, 4, 2, 1, 5, 6, 7) and globally. Their adjusted openings in the US also had been bettered incrementally with each sequel, until F8 ruined the tradition. Despite having the worst reviews of the series since part four, its popularity metrics, including an A grade from Cinemacore are consistent with other recent installments. It will only continue to make a whole lot of money.