This weekend, Furious 7 is on track to make a ridiculous amount of money at the box office. One way Universal plans to maximize their profits is by releasing their latest action tentpole in a ton of movie theaters.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Furious 7 will open in more than 4,000 theaters nationwide. The estimated 4,003 theaters, including IMAX, tops the 3,956 posted by Universal's Despicable Me 2 in 2013. In most cases, a release of this size is earmarked for big time summer blockbusters, but people who spend their time examining such things expect the film to make somewhere in the neighborhood of $115 million over the course of its debut weekend, so the studio's pulling out all of the stops.
Should it play out as expected, Furious 7 will top the previous April box office champ, last year’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, by approximately $20 million. And that $115 million estimate is only for the U.S. Globally, it’s poised to open in 63 territories, including Japan, China, and Russian (not Thailand, due to a legal kerfuffle), on more than 10,500 total screens. That could push the total take, just from the opening weekend mind you, up to roughly $250 million. If that sounds insane to you, you’re not alone.
Furious 7 picks up in the wake of Fast & Furious 6, and the past sins of Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), and their collected "family" come back to haunt them in a big way. It turns out that the villain from the last movie, Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), has a mean, nasty older brother named Deckard (Jason Statham). He’s none too pleased with what the crew did to his younger sibling, and is out to exact a bit of revenge. There’s more to the story, including a shadowy government agent (Kurt Russell) and a scowling international terrorist (Djimon Hounsou), but the main narrative thrust is hunting and being hunted by Shaw.
Originally scheduled to open in July of 2014, Furious 7 was delayed due to the tragic death of Paul Walker in November 2013. The film wasn’t complete at the time, and director James Wan (Saw) and writer Chris Morgan worked with Universal to go over the footage they had and adjust the script. Walker’s brothers even stood for him once the production resumed a few months later. The whole situation lends an air of gravity to the film, and while it’s still a total blast, it’s hard not to be moved watching the characters talk about family and brotherhood, especially with Walker.
This is just the first of what is likely a string of massive movie opening weekends. Avengers: Age of Ultron is likely going to be even bigger when it lands on May 1, but you can’t really scoff at what Furious 7 is going to do when it hits Friday, April 3.