MONDAY UPDATE with F9 actuals: Universal’s F9 came in a bit higher in the actuals versus its already record-breaking pandemic-era Sunday estimate with $163M from just eight international box office markets. The latest Justin Lin-helmed Fast Saga entry grossed a confirmed $136M in China with 81% of the share to rank 34% below The Fate Of The Furious and 24% above Hobbs & Shaw (including Monday’s play, the movie is at $147M in the Middle Kingdom).
Elsewhere, actuals are essentially on par with Sunday’s estimates. The Top 5 markets are China ($136M), Korea ($9.9M), Russia ($8.3M), Saudi Arabia ($2.67M) and the UAE ($2.64M). Rollout continues through the rest of summer, including domestic on June 25. See below for full details on how this weekend played out.
PREVIOUS, SUNDAY: Shifting into gear in eight overseas markets this weekend, Universal’s F9 grossed an estimated $162.4M, breaking multiple records and logging the biggest Hollywood film debut at the international box office during the pandemic era. China was the top hub for the latest Fast Saga entry at $135.6M (RMB 875M). This is the 2nd biggest opening for Universal and the franchise ever in the Middle Kingdom. As noted yesterday, F9’s performance this weekend pushed the full series of films past the $6B global mark.
The $162.4M gross is within the range that the industry was seeing ahead of the weekend, even if it’s at the low end. That’s likely down to somewhat higher initial expectations for China. But social and critical scores were a hobbler there. Maoyan is currently predicting a $250M finish for the Justin Lin-helmed F9, which would still be well above spinoff Hobbs & Shaw and which, at any time, is a perfectly respectable number: F9 is the first Hollywood tentpole since Avengers: Endgame to post a $100M+ opening in China.
Overall in China, F9 launched Friday with $59.1M (including midnights), the 2nd biggest opening day of the pandemic behind Detective Chinatown 3. The weekend’s IMAX result of $12.4M is the 3rd best China opening weekend ever for the month of May, as well as Universal’s 2nd best China opening weekend in the format.
In total, IMAX screens accounted for a pandemic-era best of $14M to become its 2nd biggest international opening ever in May, and in 26 fewer countries than current May record holder, Captain America: Civil War. It is also Universal’s 3rd biggest IMAX international opening weekend ever after Jurassic World and F8.
One of the really great takeaways from this weekend is the Korea performance of F9. The market has been severely depressed of late and a $9.9M start offers promise. Bowing on Wednesday (a local holiday), F9 scored the biggest opening day of the franchise and the pandemic as well as the 3rd best opening day ever for Universal. Exceeding 1M admissions faster than any Hollywood title in 2020/2021, F9 also had the best debut frame for a studio movie during the virus crisis. The Saturday to Sunday drop was a mere 10%.
Universal decided to go with F9 five weeks ahead of domestic in some markets and scored an important date in China during a lull ahead of the July 1 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party which is likely to lead to a month-long blackout on imports. And, to hear it from the industry people I’ve spoken with this weekend, Uni made a smart, bold move.
The international release strategy was predicated on the belief that a globally entertaining, all-audience film like F9 can galvanize an even more robust return to theaters and the next stage of recovery for exhibition.
Universal Pictures International President of Distribution, Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, is “thrilled to see audiences come back to movie theaters and embrace the movie in the way that they did.”
Looking ahead, there’s plenty of runway as rollout will kick off again in mid-June overseas as well as domestically on June 25. Is piracy a concern? Sure, but given F9 is not available digitally, the only copies that might be out there would be of the shaky camcorder version — and really, fans of this franchise and its over-the-top stunts would be best served seeing F9 on the big screen. (Check out a tribute video from the F9 folks below.)
Elsewhere, the Middle East chimed in greatly with $6.2M through Sunday. The nascent Saudi Arabia had its biggest opening weekend of all-time ($2.6M) while the UAE cumed $2.7M and achieved the biggest opening day and weekend of the pandemic. In Egypt, $300K gives F9 a higher gross than any total market weekend during the pandemic.
Hong Kong, which opened in step with Korea on Wednesday, has grossed $2.4M. This is the all-time biggest Universal opening day, the biggest opening day for the Fast franchise, the top opening day and single day of 2020 and 2021 and the best during the pandemic.
Russia’s weekend estimate of $8.2M is the biggest opening of the pandemic.
Here’s the Fast Family expressing its gratitude:
In other energizing news, the UK reopened this week and Sony’s Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway was perfectly positioned. The sequel grossed a great $6.4M there; dominating the box office from Monday and demonstrating the desire for families to get back to the movies. The weekend included a remarkable $2.5M on Saturday.
Peter 2 was the second biggest opening in the UK since the pandemic began, trailing only Tenet. Overall internationally, the film grossed $8.4M this weekend from 4,500+ screens in 11 markets. The cume to date is $30.2M. PR2 continued to hold strong across the map including Australia (-17%), Mexico (-24%) and Saudi Arabia (-27%).
Miramax’s Wrath Of Man, starring Fast franchise alum Jason Statham, added 13 markets this session, ranging from Latin America to the Nordics, and grossed another $3.9M. That takes the offshore cume to $52.2M. In like-for-like markets, the heist pic is running 87% ahead of Angel Has Fallen and 36% ahead of director Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen. China leads with $23M, followed by Russia at $13M. Spain, Korea and France open in the coming weeks.
Coming up next week, Disney’s Cruella and Paramount’s A Quiet Place Part II begin domestic and offshore rollout.
MISC UPDATED CUMES/NOTABLE
Those Who Wish Me Dead (WB): $2M intl weekend (38 markets); $7.5M intl cume/$13.1M global
Godzilla Vs Kong (WB): $1.8M intl weekend (51 markets); $335.4M intl cume/$432.3M global
The Unholy (SNY): $1.7M intl weekend (25 markets); $13.8M intl cume/$28.7M global
Jigoku No Hanazono (WB): $1.3M intl weekend (Japan only)
Mortal Kombat (WB): $1.1M intl weekend (47 markets); $38.5M intl cume/$79.7M global
SATURDAY UPDATE: With just eight markets in release, Universal’s F9 has propelled the Fast & Furious franchise across the $6B mark globally. The Justin Lin-helmed actioner has an estimated international box office cume of $127M through Saturday, and is eyeing a weekend total of $160M+, a sum we floated in our preview earlier this week.
In China, F9 has grossed RMB 680M ($105M) through Saturday, already the biggest Hollywood opening of the pandemic era. It is on track to become the 2nd biggest opening for Universal and the Fast Franchise in the market behind The Fate Of The Furious. Saturday’s estimated take is slightly below Friday’s numbers, which is likely due to soft social and critical scores. Normally, Sunday figures will be below Saturday, but there is still a chance F9 hits the projected $140M across the China launch frame. Maoyan, for its part, is now predicting a final tally of $244M for the run.
On IMAX screens in China, F9 bowed to $5.5M on Friday which is 9.4% of the total gross from just 1% of the screens. The result is the biggest IMAX opening day in the Fast franchise as well as the biggest opening day for any Universal title. It is also the 5th highest opening day ever for any film in China.
Elsewhere, Korea has F9 at a strong $7.7M through Saturday; great news for a market that has been depressed of late. The Vin Diesel-starrer is on track for the top studio opening weekend of the pandemic.
Russia’s cume through today is estimated at $6.4M, also on track for the biggest opening weekend of the pandemic.
The Middle East has cumed $5.5M through Saturday with Saudi Arabia eyeing the nascent market’s biggest opening weekend of all time. The UAE is at $2.3M through today, making F9 the biggest debut during Covid. Likewise for Egypt and other Middle East markets.
Hong Kong, which opened in step with Korea on Thursday, has F9 at $2.2M through Saturday, already scoring the top weekend bow during the virus crisis.
Full update to come on Sunday.
FRIDAY UPDATE: Universal’s F9 officially launched in China today with an estimated $59.1M (RMB 380M) to score the biggest Hollywood opening day of the pandemic era and the 2nd biggest of the pandemic behind Detective Chinatown 3. The Wednesday and Thursday openings from Korea, Hong Kong, Russia and the Middle East brought F9 to a cume of $10.7M, and Friday’s opening in China lifts the running international box office total to $69.8M. The total cume through Friday is not yet fully clear as some markets are still reporting. We do know that Korea added $1.07M today, which pushes the Justin Lin-helmed Fast entry past $70M.
For the Fast Saga in China, the F9 Friday launch (which includes Thursday midnights) also ranks as the 3rd biggest opening for UPI behind The Fate Of The Furious’ opening Friday and F7’s opening Sunday (which, in turn, are among the top three all-time highest grossing films in China).
There’s no doubt F9 had an enviable start in China today given the current global context. One area of concern is the film’s Middle Kingdom social and critical scores, which are low compared to previous entries in the series. F9 is currently carrying a 5.7 on Douban and an 8.1 among Maoyan audiences. Nevertheless, Maoyan is predicting a $297M finish for the film (a figure it has been re-jiggering all day, and will likely continue to do so). There’s not a lot in the way of F9 over the coming weeks; let’s see how the weekend pans out.
Elsewhere, the Middle East opened with $2.26M on Thursday. Saudi Arabia grossed $995K for the biggest opening day of all time and more than double other openings since the start of the pandemic. The UAE launched with $930K for the biggest opening day of the pandemic era.
Russia, through Thursday, has cumed $2.7M including Wednesday previews. Korea, after bowing to records on a holiday Wednesday (see below), and seeing an expected dip on Thursday, bounced back on Friday by 24% versus the previous day.
We’ll have more updates over the weekend
THURSDAY UPDATE: After beginning early overseas rollout on Wednesday in Korea and Hong Kong, Universal’s F9 continues speeding along. The two-day total from those markets as well as Russia and the Middle East is pointing to a $10M+ cume through Thursday. This does not include today’s midnights in China which are estimated at RMB 59.4M ($9.2M). Factoring those in, the latest entry in the Fast & Furious franchise is already at $20M+ before the Friday/Saturday/Sunday session.
F9 officially opens in China on Friday, and pre-sales through Sunday are currently at nearly RMB 226M ($35M). This is about on par with 2017’s The Fate Of The Furious. We are still waiting for social and critical scores for F9 which can have great impact on the ultimate results.
In the meantime, and looking at the details, Korea has grossed $4.3M through Thursday after delivering a record bow on Wednesday as the biggest opening day of the Fast franchise, the top opening day of the pandemic and Universal’s 3rd best debut. The Toretto family capitalized on the public holiday of May 19 (Buddha’s Birthday) with Uni’s biggest footprint ever of 2,265 screens. Notably, F9‘s Day 1 grabbed 84% of the market share and was 32% bigger than the sum of the previous three-day frame. That’s good news overall for a market that has been depressed of late. On Thursday, F9 continued to dominate with an 85% share and grossed 973M won ($900K) for the day. The 2-day total is 4.8M won ($4.3M).
Elsewhere, Russia/CIS started previews on a non-traditional Wednesday, grossing $1.4M and taking 82% of the market share. Hong Kong achieved a record breaking opening day on Wednesday at $800K. F9 had 80% of the market share and set multiple records. It was the biggest opening day of 2020 and 2021, the biggest single day in 2020 and 2021, the all-time biggest Universal opening day and the biggest opening day for the Fast franchise. Egypt also bowed Wednesday with a good start of $35K, which makes it the biggest pandemic opening day.
More to come throughout the weekend…
PREVIOUS, WEDNESDAY: Universal’s F9 put the pedal to the metal in its Korea bow with $3.4M (3.9M won) on day one today. That’s the best opening day ever for the Fast & Furious franchise in the market, as well as the top opening of all films in Korea since the pandemic began — even coming in ahead of last summer’s smash Peninsula which had a 2.9M won debut.
The Justin Lin-helmed F9 is dominating ticket sales in Korea, scoring $2M in pre-sales across the five day opening, the biggest advance bookings since the start of the pandemic. Exhibition, we hear, is being extremely supportive — the CGV circuit is offering free popcorn to F9 audiences throughout the first week of showings. At over 2,200 screens total, Universal has set a new record footprint.
This is a strong result in a market that has been depressed of late, owing to some reticence to return to cinemas amid Covid spikes in the past few months. However, with a major new tentpole in play and given today was the Buddha’s Birthday holiday, folks flocked to the return of the Toretto family. Korea has grown as a Fast Saga market with 2019 spinoff Hobbs & Shaw the biggest so far ($27M cume at historical rates).
Rollout continues on Thursday in Russia and the Middle East. In the former, pre-sales have reached 24M rubles, the biggest number since the pandemic began, while also above The Fate Of The Furious (22.7M) and just below F7 (26.7M).
China midnights will also kick off on Thursday. Currently, pre-sales for the opening day there (including the sneaks) are at RMB 86.3M ($13M). Advance bookings through Sunday have reached RMB 114M ($17.7M). The industry has been expecting a three-day Middle Kingdom launch of about $140M while overall the range is in the $160M-$180M neighborhood for all overseas markets releasing this weekend as we reported on Tuesday. More will become clear once China has started in earnest and social and critical scores are available.
We’ll have updates throughout the weekend.