It’s still baffling to me that a film franchise that began in 2001 with a fairly forgettable movie about cars is now seven films deep and stronger than ever. Not only that, but its latest installment—Furious 7—is one of the highest grossing films of all time. And it’s only been in theaters for 17 days.
Universal Pictures announced today that with Friday’s grosses included, director James Wan’s Los Angeles-centric sequel will cross the $1 billion mark at the worldwide box office. It is now the fastest film to ever achieve that benchmark, as well as Universal’s first movie to ever reach $1 billion in initial release. Those are some crazy statistics. I thought it was a mostly OK movie; it’s better than the forgettable Fast & Furious 6 but not as fun as Fast Five, though given the circumstances it’s a miracle it works this well, and the tribute to Paul Walker is pitch-perfect. Then again, I’d argue that Fast Five is the only “good” movie in the series. Regardless, audiences across the globe have responded resoundingly, and I am almost certainly in the minority here.
Furious 7 just passed The Lion King on the all-time worldwide box office chart at the #20 position and will next surpass The Dark Knight, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and probably Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. How high can it climb? Transformers: Age of Extinction sits at #10 with $1.09 billion, and given Furious 7’s global appeal (not to mention record speed), I don’t think it’s out of the question for the film to break the Top 10 and push Transformers 4 out. Can it give The Avengers—currently #3 on the chart with $1.518 billion—a run for its money? That’s a tougher challenge, especially with Avengers: Age of Ultron poised to steal Furious 7’s thunder over the next few weeks, but also not outside the realm of possibility. By comparison, it took The Avengers 19 days to reach $1 billion.
On the record-breaking front, Furious 7 has Universal’s highest grossing opening in the studio’s history, the second-biggest worldwide opening of all time behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, and the biggest April opening ever. This is all mighty impressive, and I have to think the touching tribute to star Paul Walker has something to do with the film’s success. Of course, this is a franchise that’s been growing with every new installment, so the foundational appeal of cartoonish set pieces and so-cheesy-they’re-great one-liners is there as well.
All of this to say, Fast & Furious 8 is absolutely a given. Universal will likely take a bit more time developing the sequel given the herculean challenge of finishing Furious 7 in an honorable way; they no doubt want to ensure that they’re continuing the series in the right manner. But it’s happening. A studio doesn’t just walk away from these kinds of box office receipts.
What do you think about Furious 7’s ceiling, folks? How high do you think it can climb on the charts? Does it have a shot at overtaking The Avengers, or will it likely settle for a Top 10 position instead? Sound off in the comments below.