furious

Box Office Brasserie:
Movie News For Movie Lovers

“Furious 7” pulls into 4,004 theaters this weekend with absolutely zero challengers. To say the PG-13 film will “dust” the competition is putting it mildly; it will “light up” the field. As in upwards of $125M. And that’s just for starters.

Paul is dead. That much we know to be true.  A very fitting tribute tags the film, which will probably leave many fans in tears.  But even without the untimely death of Paul Walker, this would have likely topped $100M+ in its debut regardless, as the “Furious” franchise has really showed no signs of slowing down.

“The Fast and the Furious” franchise debuted 14 years ago in 2001 and has grossed $2.3 billion worldwide with the six previous installments.  But what’s really amazing about this series is that it just keeps getting bigger. Bigger budgets, bigger grosses, bigger stars.

And that’s the secret of success for Universal. Bring back the original stars, add Dwayne Johnson here, Jason Statham there…and throw in Kurt Russell for kicks. That’s the kind of swagger that this series has right now, and Universal is making all the right moves.

Many thought it stalled out with “Tokyo Drift,” myself included, as the franchise seemed headed for a collision with straight-to-DVD. Funny thing happened: the box office shrank domestically, but a new audience was born. An international one.

“Tokyo Drift” actually made more overseas than the original, and with that, new fans were watching.  “Fast & Furious” drove home $208M internationally, “Fast Five” hit $416M and “Fast & Furious 6” revved up a remarkable $550M. International fame and fortune.

Where “Furious 7” stops is anyone’s guess. But it will likely flirt with $1 billion worldwide…which undoubtedly paves the way for many, many future installments. Plug and play…this franchise hasn’t come close to hitting cruise control yet. Plus, nobody has done a car chase in Antarctica yet, so there’s that.

The Paul Walker tribute alone will get butts in seats, but the diverse cast is something that makes other studios salivate as Universal is bringing in audiences from every quadrant. Sure, “Furious 7” can’t help itself, occasionally flashing hot bods and hot rods, that’s the foundation “Furious” was built on. The fact is, it took a couple leaps forward, and gets a free pass for the gratuitous glamour shots, as the series has continually cast a melting pot of actors, something many franchises haven’t successfully accomplished.

Oh, and did I mention there are enough high-octane scenes for 5 different action films? I mean, it’s just climax after climax as they really did make the most of the $190M (the most expensive installment to date) they spent.  Sure feels like summer, doesn’t it?

Not to worry, with no other films daring to go up against Vin Diesel and Co., after you’ve seen “Furious 7,” April really looks to be a traditional downpour of disappointment, before real summer blooms in May.

The previous high for the franchise was “Furious 6” with $97M, and the biggest April opener of all time is “Captain America: Winter Soldier” with $95M. Both of those records should be wiped out by Monday. As Soul Coughing would say: Uh, zoom zip.

And as Wiz Khalifa would say (and a song you’re gonna hear all summer long):

WEEKEND ESTIMATES

  1. Furious 7 – $127M
  2. Home – $30M
  3. Get Hard – $17M
  4. Insurgent -$11M
  5. Cinderella – $10M

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CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK: Weinstein’s “Southpaw” (July 24, 2015)

Jake Gyllenhaal is giving some damn fine performances lately. Sure, Antoine Fuqua’s latest looks like boxing drama we’ve seen before, but Jake is giving us the goods…right in our faces. Nice to see a film like this amongst the giant blockbusters this summer.

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CHOICE CLIP OF THE WEEK: Open Road’s “Dope” (June 19, 2015)

True to its name, this Sundance fave looks seriously dope. Can’t wait to see more of this. Surprisingly, Open Road Films will drop “Dope” in wide release against Pixar’s “Inside Out.” Great counterprogramming in my opinion and another welcomed treat for cinephiles this summer.

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Now kick up that A Tribe Called Quest, baby.

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Awwwwww, snap. We can’t stop there. One more for the road. Next stop: El Segundo.

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Jeff Bock, NewsWhistle’s movie editor, is the senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations in Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at Jeff@NewsWhistle.com.

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Image Courtesy of Universal Pictures; Poster Design by Art Machine