The Fast & Furious franchise has been a record setter at the box office for years. The films have always done well in theaters, since about the middle of the current franchise these movies have made not simply millions, but billions, of dollars. Nobody was quite sure what to expect from F9 when it came out this weekend. As the biggest movie to come out since the pandemic, it was sure to well compared to other movies, but would it really do as well as Fast & Furious movies can do?

The answer is a little of both. Last night's preview audiences attended the theater to the tune of $7.1 million, which is a record since the pandemic. It's also better than Hobbs and Shaw's opening night.

The numbers reported by THR are also better than the last movie in the franchise Hobbs & Shaw did, and while that movie didn't quite measure up to modern Fast & Furious standards, it was no box office slouch either, so it looks like F9 might be setting itself up to have a strong box office run. Certainly, one of the best we've seen in a very long time. One of the biggest questions about theatrical distribution was simply what was it going to take to get people to go back to theaters. For many, it took this movie.

As noted prior, Hobbs & Shaw did just under $6 million in in its previews two years ago, so F9 is already tracking ahead of the last installment in the series, even with the various pandemic conditions that theaters are still dealing with. Many theaters likely sat fewer people than they could have due to social distancing still being in place in many theaters.

The pandemic almost certainly is still having a negative impact however. The Fate of the Furious, the last main entry in the series, did more than $10 million in Thursday preview tickets on its way to a total of $1.2 billion globally. So the F9 numbers should still be seen as down compared to the last main film. Perhaps interest is down and perhaps there are people who aren't quite ready to venture out to theaters yet.

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F9 has already made nearly $300 million internationally; it rolled out in China and a few other territories a few weeks ago. It still has several more nations where it needs to open, but with the movie tracking ahead of Hobbs & Shaw, we could be looking at F9 grossing $800 million or more worldwide when it's all said and done. And while that's down slightly from what we would normally expect from the franchise, under the circumstances, it's a perfectly respectable take. Most studios would sell a family member for a movie to do that well.

How long it will take for movies to get back to normal is anybody's guess, but F9's early numbers would seem to indicate that time will come sooner rather than later.

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