‘F9’ made more than ‘Hobbs and Shaw’ in its opening weekend at the North American box office

Vin Diesel in 'F9' Fast 9
Vin Diesel in ‘F9.’ Universal Pictures
  • “F9” had a pandemic-best opening at the domestic box office over the weekend with $70 million.
  • It earned more than the $60 million the last “Fast and Furious” movie, “Hobbs and Shaw,” earned.
  • “F9” has grossed more than $400 million worldwide.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The latest “Fast and Furious” movie, “F9,” earned $70 million at the North American box office over the weekend, a new pandemic-best opening that topped the previous record holder, “A Quiet Place Part II.”

80% of the North American theatrical market is open, according to Comscore.

The ninth installment’s debut is also more than the last “Fast” movie’s, the spinoff “Hobbs and Shaw” in 2019. That movie earned $60 million domestically in its opening weekend and went on to gross $760 million worldwide. The eighth installment in the main “Fast” saga though, “The Fate of the Furious,” earned $98 million domestically in its debut in 2017 and ultimately made more than $1 billion worldwide.

“Tentpole sequels and horror films were already pillars of yearly theatrical revenue before the pandemic, so it logically tracks that they’re among the early standouts during this transition back into normal life for many people,” said Shawn Robbins, the Box Office Pro chief analyst.

“F9” has already grossed $405 million globally. Though the movie has slowed in the franchise’s key market China, where it opened last month, it has still grossed $217 million there (more than the $201 million “Hobbs and Shaw” earned in the region, but less than the $393 million “The Fate of the Furious” made).

It opened with $136 million in China, but fell a whopping 85% in its second weekend there with $20.6 million. The drop is dramatic, but not unprecedented. “The Fate of the Furious” fell 70% in its second weekend in China.

With more international markets still to come, “F9” will likely pass “Godzilla vs. Kong” as this year’s highest-grossing Hollywood release so far. The Warner Bros. monster mashup, which debuted in March, grossed $442 million worldwide.

“F9’s performance bodes well for other tentpoles coming up with higher ceilings of potential, but we have to be cautious in expectations during this ever-evolving marketplace,” Robbins said.

While “F9’s” opening is a positive sign for movie theaters, the industry still has a ways to go to full recovery. The strength of the theatrical market in the near future could be just as much about legs as solid debuts, according to the Exhibitor Relations media analyst Jeff Bock – meaning “F9’s” second weekend could be significant.

“The most concerning aspect is the lack of long-play films in the marketplace,” Bock said. “The key for the theatrical industry going forward is sustainability. That means either consistent openings or marathon holds.”

And the pandemic has fundamentally shifted how studios approach distribution practices.

Universal, the studio behind the “Fast and Furious” movies, has struck deals with some of the biggest theater chains to shorten the theatrical window from the pre-pandemic 75 days to just 17 in most cases, at which point it can release a movie to digital-rental platforms.