China played a huge role in the movie’s record-breaking international launch of $432.2 million and global start of $532.2 million.
Director F. Gary Gray’s The Fate of the Furious has raced away with China’s biggest three-day opening weekend ever.
The Universal film earned an astonishing $190 million from Friday to Sunday, according to early local estimates, proving that the Vin Diesel-starring action franchise remains a singular phenomenon in the world’s most populous nation.
Thanks in large measure to China, Fate of the Furious opened to a record-breaking $432.2 million internationally and $532.2 million globally, eclipsing the $529 million debut of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
In China, the film scored Hollywood’s biggest opening of all-time, and the second-largest opening overall in the country, behind only Stephen Chow’s The Mermaid (which actually makes for a somewhat awkward comparison, given that the latter received four full days of previews over Chinese New Year in 2016).
The previous film in the franchise, Furious 7, opened to a record $64 million, including previews, in 2015, and went on to pull in $390 million, which remains the largest total ever by a Hollywood film in China. Many analysts had wondered how much of that historic haul was fueled by the fact that Furious 7 was the final title starring Paul Walker, who died in a violent car crash in November 2013 during a hiatus from shooting.
As Fast 8‘s Middle Kingdom run was kicking off late Thursday though, it quickly became clear that China’s powerful attachment to the franchise had endured unabated, as the film set a new record for midnight previews, pulling in $9.1 million, according to the final numbers from local box-office tracker Ent Group. On Friday, it then scored a massive $59.9 million, setting new records for the biggest opening day and single day ever. And the momentum continued into the weekend, as local word of mouth held up and the film took $66.5 million on Saturday and $55.5 million on Sunday.
Local exhibitors programmed the film so aggressively that it almost seemed as if nothing else were playing in China over weekend. Second place finisher, the Hong Kong comedy re-release A Chinese Odyssey Part 2: Cinderella, opened to just $12 million, as Fate of the Furious received over 75 percent of all showtimes and accounted for over 90 percent of China’s total ticket revenue from Friday to Sunday. Holdover A Ghost in the Shell, which opened in China only a week ago, earned just $680,000 as the roar of Fast 8‘s engines drowned out any and all competition.
To challenge Furious 7‘s $390 million record as the biggest U.S. film ever in China, The Fate of the Furious will need uncommon endurance as well as speed. Since at least early last year, both local and international blockbusters have struggled to maintain much staying power in their second and third frames. Fast 8 should supply a solid test of whether this pattern remains in place.
Until Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 opens in China on May 5, Fate of the Furious‘ only U.S. studio competition will be Sony’s family-skewing Smurfs: The Lost Village, which debuts next Friday.