The summer blockbuster is back! Universal’s F9 raises the pandemic-imposed speed limit at the box-office. The latest entry of the Fast & Furious saga broke several pandemic-era records! Booked in over 4,000 domestic theaters, F9 is the widest release since March 2020. The film did not only break the highest single-day box-office with $30M on Friday, but also set a new benchmark for opening weekends with a three-day total of $70M. This is well above the $48M of the previous record-holder (A Quiet Place II), outpaces 2019’s spin-off Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw ($24M opening day, $60M weekend), and is the best open we have seen since December 2019’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Overseas, F9 continued the franchise’s hold on international audiences as ticket sales blew over $335M and put $405M in the tank globally. Despite being the 10thentry in a 20-year-old franchise, F9 does not let any air out of the tires. Had we been living in an alternate timeline, Fast & Furious 10 would have hit theaters April 2, 2021. The film has since been removed from the calendar, but it is only a matter of time before Universal sets a new date for the next Fast entry.
Circling back to the weekend, the domestic total was just under $100M, double that from last weekend, and even better than the $81M grossed over the weekend before Memorial Day. Despite the competition from F9, holdovers continued to be strong among the top five: A Quiet Place II’s box-office held on 68% vs last weekend; Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard held 43%; Peter Rabbit 2 held 80%; and Cruella held 77%. As a reminder, the usual hold – especially after a film’s second weekend – is around 50%. Anything higher than that is impressive, notwithstanding that we are still in a pandemic and it was not a holiday weekend.
Equally impressive is that a sequel, A Quiet Place II, is keeping in-line with its predecessor’s grosses – its 31-day gross is 85% of what the first film made in the same time-frame. Head of Franchise Entertainment Research, David A. Gross, points out that “F9 and A Quiet Place II are the cleanest reads of what business can do now – both strong series and pure theatrical releases”. Like A Quiet Place, F9 will be exclusive to theaters for at least 45 days – important to note considering that the top four movies of the weekend were also theatrical exclusives. Titles like Cruella and even Godzilla vs Kong have posted strong numbers to the box-office chart, but their success comes with an asterisk due to the streaming availability.
The same could be said about the upcoming Black Widow, but with F9’s successful launch, analysts have increased expectations to an $80M opening weekend. Amid the vague success indicators on the streaming end, it is apparent that cinema holds an increasingly significant and public foothold on moviegoers. Also, the fact that Warner Bros has already signed a deal with theaters to return to a 45-day exclusivity window in 2022, shows that studios are less keen on giving away premium event titles to their streaming services as the pandemic fades away.
As In the Heights Anthony Ramos told AP Entertainment, “Nobody’s ever going to talk about how many streams it got on HBO Max. You know? If the movie had come out in theaters only, who knows what the box office would have been”. Studios have mostly kept quiet about the dollars surrounding the success on streaming, but we can always properly measure what those movies do in theaters.
We can’t complain about the lack of content anymore. Up next are four new titles, starting with Zola this Wednesday, 6/30. Then on Friday 7/02, we get Summer Of Soul, The Forever Purge, and The Boss Baby: Family Business.