Nature is healing. Well, that’s if you consider “nature” to be the international cinema market, that is. The likes of Godzilla vs. Kong and Detective Chinatown 3 have already shown that with COVID-19 numbers dropping and vaccination numbers increasing, more and more movie fans in places like China are starting to flock back to cinemas in huge numbers. As a result, we’ve seen a few films leapfrog each other to claim the title of the biggest box office release since the start of the pandemic. And the latest wearer of that crown is Universal’s Fast 9 aka F9: The Fast Saga, which hit select markets last week ahead of its major release in the coming weeks. What makes Fast 9 special though is that it also broke some more traditional box office records along the way as well.
As things currently stand, the latest Justin Lin-directed entry in the long-running action blockbuster franchise had a combined opening weekend in just eight markets amount to a whopping $164 million. The lion’s share of that came from China which contributed a massive $136 million, while Korea ($9.9 million) and Russia ($8.3 million) rounded out its top three markets. This is by far the biggest opening for a foreign film in China since the pandemic began, but it’s also the first Hollywood release to open above $100 million in the Middle Kingdom since 2019’s Avengers Endgame.
This is also the second biggest Chinese opening overall for the entire Fast franchise and for Universal, with only previous entry, The Fate of the Furious, earning more with a staggering $191.3 million debut weekend back in 2017. And while Fast 9 fell short of claiming that throne, its first few days have now earned enough to move the Fast franchise’s overall lifetime earnings past the $6 billion mark.
Fast 9 doesn’t hit the US and most other major cinema markets until 25 June, but Universal decided to release it this early in Asia to keep it ahead of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party which kicks off on 1 July and will probably have a month-long window of no international releases. There is the risk of piracy with a release this early, but based on these numbers so far, it’s worth it.
Last Updated: May 25, 2021