‘Fate of the Furious’ Set to Rule April Box Office With $120+ Million Opening

But will sequel top $147 million opening and $1.5 billion worldwide cume set by 2015 predecessor?

After a throat-clearing weekend that saw “The Boss Baby” hold on to No. 1 at the box office with just $26 million, movie theaters around the world are bracing for a big Easter weekend highlighted by Universal’s “The Fate of the Furious,” the eighth installment in the studio’s “Fast & Furious” franchise.

With no serious opposition in theaters, it’s practically a given that “Fate” will join “Beauty and the Beast” on the list of $100+ million domestic openings in 2017. But while Universal is staying cautious with their projections and keeping it to around $100 million, independent trackers have turned up their numbers from $110 million three weeks ago to as much as $125 million this week.

Directed by “Straight Outta Compton” filmmaker F. Gary Gray, “Fate of the Furious” follows Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) as he is blackmailed into turning against his crew by the mysterious villain Cipher (Charlize Theron). Confused and hurt by their leader’s betrayal, Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and the rest of the team must band together to stop Dom and Cipher with the unexpected help of their former adversary, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). The film currently has a 79 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

There are two targets “Fate and the Furious” will be looking to break this weekend. The first is the franchise-record $147 million opening made by the film’s 2015 predecessor, “Furious 7,” which was released following the death of longtime star Paul Walker and saw his character, Brian O’Conner, drive off into the distance. The second target is the $174 million opening made by “Beauty and the Beast” last March, the benchmark for domestic openings in 2017 so far.

Reaching either of those targets will require a huge turnout from audiences, but based on the performance of other breakout successes this year, analysts tell TheWrap they wouldn’t be surprised if “Fate” smashes some records this weekend.

“What did we think ‘Split’ was going to do? ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ ‘Logan,’ ‘Get Out’ — all those movies took whatever the high-end expectation was and outperformed that,” says comScore’s Paul Dergarabedian. “What happened with all those movies and what’s going to happen with ‘Fate of the Furious’ is that people are going to be psyched to go see this movie and drive up a big Saturday total because it’s the pure embodiment of a popcorn movie.”

Beyond this weekend, “Fate” will try to reach the $1.51 billion worldwide cume “Furious 7” racked up. In doing so, “Furious 7” became the third film in history to gross a billion dollars overseas. Universal owes such rare success to China, where “Furious 7” became the highest grossing American film and third highest overall with a Chinese cume of $391 million. “Fate” has the chance to enjoy the same success, as it has already set a new record for most ticket presales in China and will hit screens in a whopping 63 markets this weekend.

“Fate” will also have the advantage of being the biggest release this month, with no tentpole releases expected to stand in its way until “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” arrives on May 5. Next weekend sees the release of A24’s action comedy “Free Fire” and Disney’s nature documentary “Born in China.” On April 28, EuropaCorp and STX will release “The Circle,” a tech thriller starring Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega, and Bill Paxton in his final film role.