Fans of the Fast and Furious franchise have been waiting for a year to see the latest entry in the series, and they still have about another month to go. However, Chinese fans of Fast and Furious do not need to wait 30 more days. The movie released there on Friday and it had an impressive, but not record-breaking, opening day gross of just under $60 million. However, while the first day numbers did not set records, the weekend numbers did, as the movie has now helped the Fast Saga as a whole cross the $6 billion mark.
The $59.3 million opening day in China wasn't quite enough to break the $6 billion mark, but it did show that the movie was going to have a strong opening weekend and was going to easily cross the threshold over the weekend, According to Forbes, following the Friday numbers the franchise was at $5.963 billion after Friday. So while we haven't seen official weekend numbers in China reported yet, it's a foregone conclusion that the franchise has broken the $6 billion mark.
And that may only be the beginning for the film. The last two Fast and Furious films have both grossed over a billion dollars worldwide, so crossing the $7 billion mark once the movie opens in the rest of the world isn't outside the realm of possibility. The $59.3 million Friday for F9 was only down from a record $68 million, Friday for the release of The Fate of the Furious in 2017, so box office numbers are closer to normal right now than you might expect, at least in China, so if that pattern holds in the rest of the world F9 could see a box office much closer to what we would have thought we'd see if there hadn't been a global pandemic.
The $6 billion number is especially impressive because Fast & Furious didn't arrive based on any previous brand that fans were familiar with. It had to build its fan base from scratch and while the movies have always done well at the box office, there was a steady improvement, from the first movie, which only grossed around $200 million, to the high point of Furious 7 which grossed $1.5 billion. The last movie in the franchise, the spinoff Hobbs & Shaw, grossed $200 million in China alone, just to give some perspective as to how far the series has come.
How well F9 will do at the domestic box office is certainly difficult to gauge right now. But the extra month that Americans will need to wait is actually likely to be good news for the film. Theaters are largely open, though to limited capacity, across the country. Those capacity numbers will likely only increase in the next four weeks. California has already announced that it plans to reduce many restrictions beginning June 15, and vaccination numbers will also go up in the next few weeks, meaning many more people will likely be confident enough to venture out to theaters.
If F9 doesn't quite measure up to previous installments when it comes to the box office nobody is going to be shocked and it certainly won't be seen as a failure of the franchise. If, however, the numbers add up and more records are broken, F9 could end up being the movie that signals the return to theaters for the nation.