‘Hobbs and Shaw’ has boosted a lacklustre summer box office, as it puts up strong numbers in China

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‘Fast and Furious: Hobbs and Shaw’ Universal
  • “Hobbs and Shaw” earned $US102 million in its China debut over the weekend, and has made $US589 million worldwide.
  • The last two “Fast and Furious” movies, “Furious 7” and “The Fate of the Furious,” both made over $US1 billion, but experts don’t think it’s fair to compare.
  • “Spinning off a major franchise, especially one with an ensemble cast like ‘Fast and Furious,’ is always tricky,” Boxoffice Pro editorial director Daniel Loria said.
  • The summer domestic box office is down 2% compared to last year, according to the Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian.
  • “Without this movie being in the marketplace, we’d be hurting,” Dergarabedian said.
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The “Fast and Furious” spin-off movie “Hobbs and Shaw” opened in China over the weekend (three weeks after its domestic debut) with an impressive $US102 million, the biggest August opening ever in the country.

That raises the movie’s global box-office total to $US589 million.Boxoffice Pro editorial director Daniel Loria is predicting the movie to tap out at $US650 million worldwide. With a $US200 million production budget, before marketing costs, is “Hobbs and Shaw” living up to the lofty expectations set by recent “Fast and Furious” movies?

READ MORE: ‘Hobbs and Shaw’ had the second-worst US opening of the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise, but it could still be a huge hit

According to box-office experts, it doesn’t need to.

“Spinning off a major franchise, especially one with an ensemble cast like ‘Fast and Furious,’ is always tricky,” Loria told Business Insider. “Few IPs have been able to do it successfully, so it’s a bit unfair to expect this spin-off to hit the billion-dollar heights of prior films in the series.”

2015’s “Furious 7” and 2017’s “The Fate of the Furious” both grossed over $US1 billion worldwide, but before that, “Fast Five” and “Furious 6” earned $US789 million and $US626 million, respectively. If Loria’s prediction holds up, “Hobbs and Shaw” will finish as the franchise’s fourth-highest-grossing movie worldwide.

That’s not bad considering it’s launching its own franchise, according to the Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

“The movie is very different than your traditional ‘Fast and Furious’ movie,” Dergarabedian told Business Insider. “I think there’s this idea that it’s a disappointment compared to other ‘Fast and Furious’ movies, but the franchise has weaved and adjusted, and [the studio] Universal has had to get creative. Universal has had a malleable approach to ‘Fast and Furious,’ and whatever lessons they learn, they will apply going forward.”

And without “Hobbs and Shaw,” the domestic summer box office would be bleak. It’s already down 2% compared to last summer, according to Dergarabedian, and has otherwise been supported almost single-handedly by Disney.

“Without this movie being in the marketplace, we’d be hurting,” he said. “Universal has always been smart about picking outlier release dates, and August has historically been an outlier.”

It’s reasonable to assume that “Hobbs and Shaw” has performed well enough on its own terms to permit a sequel. Although if the franchise continues on a downward trend at the box office (the ninth “Fast and Furious” movie comes to theatres next year), it might cause Universal to reassess its strategy.

“The ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise is going through a transition,” Loria said.