Universal’s “F9” is bringing audiences back to theaters. After earning $30 million on Friday to post the highest single-day total for a film since the pandemic began, the “Fast & Furious” film has earned the highest opening weekend the U.S. box office has seen in 18 months with $70 million from 4,179 screens.
Not only does that top the $47.5 million 3-day opening of “A Quiet Place — Part II” and the $60 million opening of the “Fast & Furious” spinoff “Hobbs & Shaw,” but it also tops the openings of all the 2020 films that became hits before the pandemic, including the $62.5 million start for “Bad Boys for Life.” The $5.5 million grossed by “F9” on IMAX screens is the highest domestic weekend total for the format since “Bad Boys for Life” launched in January 2020.
Overseas, the film opened in Mexico, U.K., Ireland, Central America and Norway, earning post-pandemic opening day and weekend records in all those markets with $10.7 million grossed in Mexico and $8.3 million in the U.K.. Globally, the film has grossed $108 million, bringing it to $405 million and putting it on course to become the first Hollywood film since “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” to gross over $500 million worldwide.
With $6.3 billion grossed over 10 films, the “Fast & Furious” series is now the fifth-highest grossing film franchise of all time.
Reception for the film has been solid with a 60% critics score and 84% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and a B+ on CinemaScore — a notch below the A- given to “Hobbs & Shaw.” Also worth noting is the film’s demographics, continuing the “Fast & Furious” franchise’s track record of bringing in diverse audiences. While Latino audiences outside of New York and Los Angeles largely skipped the Latino-heavy “In the Heights,” they were the top ethnicity for “F9” this weekend with 37% of the audience compared to 35% white, 16% Black and 8% Asian. Males make up 60% of the audience with 61% fitting in the 18-34 age demographic.
While “F9” will likely fall short of the $759 million global total of “Hobbs & Shaw” due to COVID-19 crippling many key overseas markets, the success of the film is another boost for proponents of theatrical exclusivity. “F9” is getting a 45-day theatrical window before being released for digital rental, a noted departure from Disney’s theatrical/PVOD hybrid release strategy and Warner Bros.’ theatrical/streaming day-and-date plans for its 2021 slate.
The next big test for hybrid vs. exclusive — as well as for “F9” — will come on July 9 when Disney releases Marvel Studios’ “Black Widow” in theaters and on Disney+’s Premium Access service for $30. While Disney has tried the hybrid strategy with “Raya and the Last Dragon,” and “Cruella” and has spoken positively of the results — “Cruella” has grossed $71 million domestically to go with undisclosed PVOD sales — “Black Widow” will allow the studio and the industry to gauge just how much moviegoers value the theatrical experience when it comes to seeing the most popular blockbuster franchise in the world.
As the only new wide release, “F9” is comprising over 70% of the overall weekend box office, which has also hit a new post-pandemic high at an estimated $97 million. In a very distant second is Paramount’s “A Quiet Place — Part II,” which is outlasting other holdovers to hang on to the No. 2 spot with $6.2 million in its fifth weekend, bringing its domestic total to $136 million.
Lionsgate’s “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” and Sony’s “Peter Rabbit 2” are neck-and-neck for third with $4.8 million each. “Bodyguard” now has a two weekend total of $25.8 million, while “Peter Rabbit 2” has a total of $28.8 million after three weekends with $107.8 million grossed worldwide. Disney’s “Cruella” completes the Top 5 with $3.7 million in its fifth weekend for a domestic total of $71.3 million and a global total of $183.8 million.