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'F9' Speeds to $7.1 Million at Thursday Box Office

Vin Diesel returns for the ninth film in the "Fast & Furious" franchise, which is projected for an opening between $55-60 million

"F9," the ninth movie in the "Fast & Furious" franchise, has gotten off to a quick start by grossing $7.1 million from 3,100 screens for preview showings beginning at 7:00 p.m. The film will open wide at 4,179 North American theaters this weekend, which is the largest theater count since the pandemic shutdown began.

Universal's biggest blockbuster is a long time coming, being delayed from a release way back in April of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The film has already made an impressive $292 million internationally, including $203.8 million in China alone.

The hope though is that "F9" can match the performance of the "Fast" spinoff "Hobbs & Shaw," which in its Thursday debut from 2019 made $5.8 million before ultimately opening to $60 million. That opening would be right in line with what independent trackers are guessing "F9" will do, expecting that even with pandemic uncertainty, the film will rev its way to $60 million. Universal however predicts the film will land in the $55-60 million range.

It's not necessarily the billion-dollar-plus heights that some of the "Fast & Furious" predecessors have managed, but it could still easily represent new highs for the pandemic box office. "F9" will also be released exclusively in theaters for a window of 45 days before it moves to streaming or to premium on-demand, unlike some other recent hits such as "Godzilla Vs. Kong" that also debuted day-and-date on streaming.

“F9” sees Vin Diesel return as Dominic Toretto as he reunites his gang to take on his most personal foe yet: his long-lost forsaken brother Jakob, as played by John Cena newly joining the franchise. Justin Lin also returns to direct his third “Fast & Furious” movie from a script he co-wrote with Daniel Casey.

Longtime cast members Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson and Sung Kang are all back on board along with Helen Mirren, Kurt Russell, Nathalie Emmanuel, Michael Rooker and Charlize Theron.