Universal action film's opening was $10 million higher than "Hobbes & Shaw" debut two years ago
"F9" has been a boon for theaters and the box office, scoring the highest opening weekend in over 18 months with a $70 million start in the U.S. And even with about 20% of domestic theaters still closed, "F9" is on track to match or exceed the box office of the "Fast & Furious" franchise's 2019 spinoff "Hobbs & Shaw," which opened to $60 million and wound up grossing $174 million domestically and $585 million overseas.
That would be a great outcome for Universal, which gambled by releasing the pricey action film at this still relatively early stage in the post-pandemic recovery period. Studio insiders told TheWrap that Universal is satisfied with its decision to move "F9" back a full year, and then again from Memorial Day weekend to June 25. The additional delay allowed time for more theaters to reopen and for pandemic capacity restrictions to be lifted. In fact, theaters in 44 states and nine of the top 10 North American markets -- Toronto excluded -- now allow theaters to operate at 100% capacity.