Fast & Furious 9 drives to $216m debut overseas

LOS ANGELES – Fast & Furious 9 has the international box office sizzling.

The latest instalment in Universal’s testosterone-fuelled franchise kicked off with a massive US$162.4 million (S$216m) in eight markets, including China, Korea, Hong Kong and the Middle East. 

Those ticket sales easily mark the best start for a Hollywood blockbuster since Covid-19 hit.

It’s an encouraging start to summer movie season, particularly because revenues weren’t far off from what a Fast movie would have generated at the box office in non-pandemic times.

It opens in cinemas here on June 24.

“Moviegoers are eager to come back to theatres when the right movie is out there,” Universal’s president of international distribution Veronika Kwan Vandenberg said. 

“It’s a great movie for the China market,” she adds. “It has a strong fanbase.” 

Of this weekend’s US$162 million bounty, US$135 million came from China alone.

That ranks as the second-biggest launch for the series in the country following the eighth entry, 2017’s The Fate Of The Furious at US$184 million. 

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In another notable milestone, it’s the first Hollywood title in two years – since Disney’s 2019 superhero epic Avengers: Endgame – to debut to more than US$100 million in China.

With this weekend’s ticket sales, the Fast franchise has pushed past US$6 billion globally.

Directed by Justin Lin and starring Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and John Cena, the sequel is deploying a staggered rollout across the world as the globe recovers from the pandemic. 

It touches down in the US on June 25 and will bow in 60 additional markets over the summer. 

Unlike upcoming blockbuster hopefuls, it will only be offered in theatres – at least for its first few weekends of release. - REUTERS