F9: Universal’s Latest Chapter to Score More than $66 Million Pandemic-Era Opening

‘F9’ to Score More than $66 Million Pandemic-Era Opening

The ninth installment in the ‘Fast & Furious’ franchise is expected to clear $60 million to $70 million-plus for the weekend in what would be a major win for Hollywood and theaters.

Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle

F9 is headed for a huge $66 million debut at the weekend box-office, a pandemic-era record for North America, based on Friday early Friday estimates.

The movie started playing at 7 p.m. (local time)Thursday evening in 3,100 theaters. By Friday morning, it expanded into a total of 4,179 locations, the biggest count since cinemas started reopening.

Universal’s tentpole, followed by Disney and Marvel Studios’ superhero offering Black Widow (July 9), are crucial test cases yet for Hollywood’s recovery.

One major difference: F9 is an exclusive theatrical release before hitting premium VOD in six weeks or so, while Black Widow will be made available simultaneously in cinemas and on Disney+ Premier Access for $30.

Justin Lin directs the ninth installment in the Fast & Furious series.

F9 has already sped past records internationally and is nearing $300 million from 23 markets to date. This past weekend, the franchise became the fifth-biggest franchise globally with $6.2 billion, surpassing the X-Men series. F9 will continue its international rollout throughout the summer and has many key markets left in which to open (including the U.K. this weekend).

If tracking is correct, the picture will clear $60 million to $70 million in its domestic debut.

Spinoff Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw earned $5.8 million in previews two years ago on its way to an opening weekend of $60 million.

F9 stars returning cast members Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jordana Brewster and Sung Kang, with Helen Mirren, Kurt Russell and Charlize Theron.

The movie also features Cardi B as a new franchise character and a cameo by Reggaeton sensation Ozuna.

Paramount’s horror-thriller A Quiet Place Part II — which is only playing in theaters for an exclusive period — presently holds the record for a pandemic-era opening after grossing $57.1 million over the long Memorial Day weekend, including $47.5 million for the three-day weekend. The film is an unqualified hit, with a current global gross north of $225 million.

Quiet Place II, though, is a modestly budgeted genre pic, not a broad-audience, big-budget offering such as F9.