Slowly but surely China is becoming one of the largest box office nations in the world. This means they have the power to make movies hits. They've now done exactly that for The Fate of the Furious. The movie has is believed to have had the largest global opening weekend in the history of film, but a large part of the reason for that is that the film had the biggest opening ever for a Hollywood movie in China, bringing in $190 million over the film's opening three days.
It was a foregone conclusion going into the weekend that China seems to love Vin Diesel generally and the Fast and Furious films specifically. The previous record holder for a Hollywood movie in China was the previous film in this franchise, Furious 7, so the expectations for China were high. Still, as The Hollywood Reporter points out, this was the first film to be released without series mainstay Paul Walker and so there was always the possibility that it might not be embraced in the same way the previous iterations had been. Apparently, there was nothing to worry about as The Fate of the Furious now holds the record for a Hollywood opening and is in the number two spot for all-time Chinese movie openings.
The Chinese opening, however, in start contrast to that of the American opening. While The Fate of the Furious still broke the $100 million mark and won the weekend, that number was down significantly from the $147 million that that Furious 7 did in its opening.
There does seem to be some sort of pattern emerging. What's unclear is if western audiences have decided they just don't love Vin Diesel as much or if Chinese audiences just really love Vin Diesel. The Fate of the Furious numbers seem to mirror those of XxX: Return of Xander Cage, which only did reasonably well in the North America but was a big hit in China as well.
Still, all the numbers add up to something pretty impressive. The Fate of the Furious appears to have seen a $530 million global opening weekend which, if the projections hold, will make it the largest global opening of all time, putting it ahead of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The fact that the Fast and Furious films are bigger in China than Star Wars, and by a large margin, shows just how big this franchise truly is.
This is simply another example of how the movie business has become a global one and North America is simply one part of a massive industry. While it used to be that all movies made in Hollywood were designed with western audiences in mind, there's little question that when Fast and Furious 9 and 10 are made over the next few years, what plays well in China will be part of the conversation.