This weekend was always going to be a massive test for the domestic box office. While we have seen the release of some big blockbusters in the last few months (Adam Wingard's Godzilla vs. Kong being the standout title), The Fast & The Furious is one of the top tier most popular franchises in the the movie industry right now, and with pandemic restrictions being eased in major markets all around the United States there are a lot of eyes watching to compare the performance of Justin Lin's F9 with its predecessors. Now the numbers are in, and while it succeeded in having only the sixth biggest opening in the series – behind Lin's Fast & Furious ($71 milllion) and ahead of John Singleton's 2 Fast 2 Furious ($50.5 million) – the new release did manage to totally shatter records as far as films released during the pandemic go.
F9 played in more than 4,000 locations around the country this weekend (the most locations for any title since J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker), and according to Variety it's estimated that the sequel will add $70 million to its already-massive global box office total. The movie has been playing overseas for a few weeks now, having earned over $330 million, and now its premiere domestic has allowed it to cross the $400 million mark internationally with a standing total of $404.9 million. The previous record holder during the "pandemic era" was John Krasinski's A Quiet Place Part II, which opened in theaters a few weeks ago making $47.5 million in its first Friday-to-Sunday ($57 million overall thanks to its mid-week debut), but obviously the new Fast & Furious installment beats that by a country mile.
To help put that strong opening in perspective, F9 took just three days to eclipse the total ticket sales that Christopher Nolan's Tenet earned during both its mid-pandemic run, and its IMAX re-release a few months ago. Clearly the movie theater business isn't back at 100 percent health yet – otherwise there is no question that the film would have made north of $100 million in its opening weekend – but it's a great sign that things are getting back to normal.
One thing that should be pointed out with this performance is that right now the film is a big screen exclusive – something that is a bit rare right now in distribution. While films like the aforementioned Godzilla vs. Kong and Simon McQuoid's Mortal Kombat both came out day-and-date in theaters and on HBO Max, the only way to see F9 in North America right now is to go buy a ticket, so the $70 million it has made represents all of the interest that existed to see the film this weekend. That information doesn't mean all that much by itself at present, but it does set an interesting new high water mark for that type of release, and it will make a good source of comparison going forward. For example, if Cate Shortland's Black Widow comes out in a few weeks and doesn't do as well as F9, we will have to contemplate the influence of it being made available via Premiere Access on Disney+ and consider how much of the theatrical audience was lost to streaming.
As for the rest of the titles available in theaters right now, it should be of little surprise that F9 doing well meant that basically every other title currently playing right now got ignored. A Quiet Place Part 2 successfully held on to its second place standing, but it only managed to bring in $6.2 million – bringing its total domestic gross to $136.4 million. Patrick Hughes' The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard, meanwhile (which got off to a mediocre start last weekend), leap-frogged the horror sequel and landed in third place with a $4.9 million take.
Rounding out the top five, Will Gluck's Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway just barely missed out on third place (estimates say it made just $25,000 less than the Ryan Reynolds/Samuel L. Jackson/Salma Hayek team-up), and Craig Gillespie's Cruella added $3.7 million to its $71.3 million haul. Michael Chaves' The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, Jon M. Chu's In The Heights, and Dreamworks Animations' Spirit Untamed all also managed to make seven figures this weekend, but the industry is still patiently waiting for that to be the case for the full Top 10.
It's pretty easy to imagine that F9 will continue to do well for at least a few weeks, and it helps that there is a big holiday coming up – though that also means that the Fast & Furious feature is facing new competition. What's strange is that most of said competition is coming from the movie's own distributor: Universal Pictures. Two of the biggest movies coming out this week are Everardo Gout's The Forever Purge and Dreamworks Animation's The Boss Baby: Family Business – so it seems that the studio is really banking on people celebrating July 4th by going to their local theater. How will it all shake out? You'll have to come back here to CinemaBlend next week and read our box office report. Meanwhile, to check out everything set to come out between now and the end of Deember, be sure to check out our 2021 Movie Release Schedule.