New Delhi: Hollywood action franchise Fast & Furious’s latest, Fast and Furious 8, has set a global record for the opening weekend, taking in $532.5 million across 63 countries.
The Vin Diesel-starrer beat space opera Star Wars’s latest, The Force Awakens, which earned $529 million in the opening weekend in 2015. Fast 8 benefited from a huge release in China, where it took in $188.85 million in the opening weekend; Star Wars didn’t premiere in that country till a month after its first global release, according to a Bloomberg report.
The Force Awakens also did better in the US, making $247 million compared to Fast 8’s $100 million. Furious 7 also ranks as the biggest April debut on record and the all-time sixth-highest-grossing movie worldwide.
In India too, the F. Gary Gray-directed movie has done well. It netted about Rs47 crore until Sunday with paid previews starting Wednesday and remained on track to perhaps overtaking the seventh instalment that was the first Hollywood film to cross the Rs100 crore mark in India when it released in 2015.
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“While most Hollywood films tend to perform well primarily on the Saturday and Sunday of the opening weekend, Fast and Furious 8, has had one of the biggest openings for a Hollywood movie on a working day i.e. Thursday," said Ashish Saksena, chief operating officer, cinemas at online ticketing site BookMyShow. “The metros and major cities contributed significantly more to the collections but this could also be attributed to higher ticket prices. Other regions showed uniform bookings as well, indicating a lot of excitement."
Part of the well-established Fast and Furious franchise that has enjoyed universal appeal after the release of the fifth instalment in 2011, the movie did better than recent Bollywood releases, including Begum Jaan that hit screens alongside the Hollywood film and earned Rs11.48 crore till Sunday, or slightly older releases such as Naam Shabana and Phillauri that have managed Rs35.64 crore and Rs27.08 crore respectively during their theatrical runs so far.
“The success of the film definitely has to do with the brand value (of the franchise)," said independent film trade and business expert Girish Johar who is predicting a Rs70 crore first week for Fast and Furious 8. “Plus, India is in love with action and cars right now, like it was with animals at one point."
There is more to the movie than the action, say the distributors.
“We didn’t peg Fast 8 entirely on the action," said Sarabjit Singh, general manager, Universal Pictures India International, distributors of the film. “If you see, there’s a great deal of story and fun behind the film and so our target audience was primarily the youth."
Singh said the company opted for a big pan-India release in about 1,222 screens and forged a slew of partnerships: with English movie channel Sony PIX, exhibition chains PVR and Cinepolis, mobile wallet firm Paytm, online fashion retail company Myntra, and electronic products retail chain Croma. Fast 8 has been dubbed in four languages, including Kannada, which is a first for a Hollywood release.
To be sure, the success of Hollywood films in India may be attributed to the evolution of the overall market that began with Fast and Furious 7 in 2015.
According to the Indian Media and Entertainment Industry Report 2017 released by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and KPMG, gross collections of Hollywood films grew by around 10% in 2016 over the previous year.