Fast & Furious 7 claims pole position at US box office
Many have scoffed at Vin Diesel's predictions of an Oscar for Fast & Furious 7, but you can't argue with its performance at the box office.
Diesel is of course an actor in and producer of the revitalised franchise. This latest installment raced to the top of the US box office in its opening weekend, picking up a massive $143.6 million ($194.3m).
It set a new high-water mark for the month of April, blowing past the $95 million debut of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and stands as the highest-grossing kick-off for any film in the Fast and Furious franchise.
If that was not impressive enough, the film now ranks ninth among the top ten openings in history.
It is thought that one of the driving factors for Furious 7's success is that it is the last film to star Paul Walker.
The US actor died in a 2013 car crash at the age of 40. After it was decided to go ahead with the film, the rest of Walker's role was completed using digital technology and a series of stand-ins.
"This is a bittersweet installment in the franchise," said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com.
"(Walker’s) passing made this movie more intriguing for people who hadn’t seen some of the installments.
"It raised awareness and its success is a tribute to him."
Universal Pictures spent $190 million on the production.
Many analysts estimated that the film would open to around $115 million.
If the films US figures were powerful, the international number looked to have been given a turbo boost. Internationally, the filmed showed on 10,500 screens in 63 territories, earning $240.4 million.
Contrino said: "This is the next member of the billion dollar club and that’s a rarefied place to be.
"This thing is on fire."
With positive reviews, and no real competition until Avengers: Age of Ultron debuts at the end of April, Furious 7 could be one of the few modern blockbusters that hangs on to the top spot for more than a few weeks.
The franchise in rude health, further sequels are likely to be a matter of "when" and not "if".
Perhaps we could even see the stunt TNP suggested to Diesel in Beijing last month.
See the video below to find out what the suggestion was that got Diesel chanting...