November 30, 2021

Latest ‘Fast & Furious’ Movie Leads Weekend Box Office

LOS ANGELES—The “Fast & Furious” franchise gave Hollywood its best opening weekend since December 2019 at the box office this weekend, offering further evidence that American entertainment industries are accelerating toward some semblance of normalcy.

“F9: The Fast Saga,” the ninth installment of the car-racing franchise, collected an estimated $70 million from domestic theaters. While that opening is only the sixth-best of the series so far, it comes after several releases that indicate a steadily growing appetite among moviegoers to venture back to the theater.

“This film establishes that we’re coming out of it,” said

Jim Orr,

president of domestic theatrical distribution at

Comcast Corp.’s

CMCSA 0.64%

Universal Pictures, which distributed the film.

The opening of “F9” is the best of any Hollywood release since “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” in late 2019, and follows the encouraging openings of “Godzilla vs. Kong” in March and “A Quiet Place Part II” in May.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

Have you gone to a movie theater recently? What was the experience like? Join the conversation below.

“F9,” however, offers the clearest test yet on the post-pandemic habits of moviegoers. The movie is the most-anticipated title released since the pandemic closed theaters and comes as about 80% of the auditoriums have reopened and major cities allow full-capacity seating inside them.

Across the American economy, vendors, executives and investors are watching metrics like box-office receipts to see how the post-Covid-19 entertainment landscape will take shape. Signs of life are coming quickly: On Saturday, Bruce Springsteen reopened his hit Broadway show, “Springsteen on Broadway” to a fully vaccinated crowd. Venues such as the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles are hosting summer concerts at full capacity, and

Walt Disney Co.

DIS 0.24%

theme parks have expanded hours and loosened attendance restrictions. A return to pre-pandemic habits is encouraging—and necessary—for an American movie business with weeks of much-delayed, costly films scheduled to premiere after “F9.”

“F9,” in particular, has also been an unlikely indicator of how Hollywood planned to weather the pandemic. In March 2020, just days after lockdowns became a reality for most Americans, Universal pushed its original May 2020 release by nearly a year. The decision shocked corners of Hollywood, since it signaled that Universal brass forecast that the pandemic would keep major releases on the shelf for months longer than expected. The movie was eventually delayed several more times, keeping one of the studio’s most important and lucrative franchises out of theaters and forcing competitors to adjust their calendars accordingly.

A poster for ‘F9’ in May at a metro station in China, where the movie has brought in more than $200 million in box-office receipts.



Photo:

VCG/Getty Images

Universal wanted to wait until a majority of its top markets were back online before releasing the film, said Mr. Orr. Toronto is the only significant moviegoing city that still has theaters closed, he said, which likely shaved a few million dollars of box-office receipts from this weekend’s total.

“F9” premiered a few weeks ago in certain international markets, where it has collected a total of $335 million, including more than $200 million in China, the world’s second-largest moviegoing market. Box-office receipts in China fell sharply in the movie’s second week of release, indicating a poor response from audiences. American crowds gave it a “B+” grade, according to the CinemaScore market-research firm.

Around the time it delayed big-budget releases such as “F9” last year, Universal also began shipping would-be theatrical releases straight to home release. The decision, which meant movies like “Trolls World Tour” premiered in living rooms and not on the big screen, drew outrage from some movie-theater operators but quickly became the industry norm.

Today, all of the studios are opting for a mix of release strategies. In a sign of how topsy-turvy the release schedule can look, Universal’s next two releases—“The Boss Baby: Family Business” and “The Forever Purge”—will both premiere on July 2. The “Purge” sequel will play only in theaters, while the “Boss Baby” sequel will play in theaters but also stream on its in-house streaming service, Peacock.

Write to Erich Schwartzel at erich.schwartzel@wsj.com

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Related Posts

Ford’s Electric F-150 Lightning Undercuts Rivals With $40,000 Starting Price

May 20, 2021

May 20, 2021

The company revealed prices for its newest truck—the first fully electric version of its top-selling and most-profitable vehicle—during an event...

Jobless Claims Rose Last Week, Pausing Downward Trend

June 17, 2021

June 17, 2021

Worker filings for initial unemployment benefits rose by 37,000 to 412,000 last week, marking the first increase since late April...

Summer Job Market for Teens Is Sweet

June 6, 2021

June 6, 2021

Young Americans are saving the summer. Businesses are counting on teenage workers to staff restaurants, golf clubs, resorts and other...

Biden Administration Extends Bipartisan Infrastructure Talks Into June

May 30, 2021

May 30, 2021

The Biden administration said Sunday that talks over a $1.7 trillion infrastructure package would need to show a “clear direction”...

Venmo to Charge Users for Selling Goods and Services

June 26, 2021

June 26, 2021

Venmo, the payments app owned by PayPal Holdings Inc., PYPL -1.23% will soon allow users to sell products and services...

Shareholder of MDC Partners Opposes Merger With Stagwell

May 27, 2021

May 27, 2021

One of MDC Partners Inc.’s largest shareholders is opposing the advertising company’s proposed merger with Stagwell Media, a private-equity fund...

The Pandemic Supercharged the Corporate Debt Boom

June 14, 2021

June 14, 2021

Before the pandemic, U.S. companies were borrowing heavily at low interest rates. When Covid-19 lockdowns triggered a recession, they didn’t...

GameStop’s Chief Operating Officer Departs

October 29, 2021

October 29, 2021

GameStop Corp.’s chief operating officer, Jenna Owens, has left the company, less than a year after joining. GameStop didn’t give...

GM Sees Brighter Profit Outlook as It Fends Off Computer-Chip Crunch

June 3, 2021

June 3, 2021

General Motors Co. GM 5.93% expects profits to be better in the first half of the year than it previously...

Why That Sofa You Ordered Isn’t Showing Up Soon

June 13, 2021

June 13, 2021

In the latest sign of the U.S. economy’s post-pandemic disarray, even companies that have built domestic supply chains are running...

Samsung Posts Record Quarterly Revenue From Chip Boom

October 28, 2021

October 28, 2021

SEOUL— Samsung Electronics Co. reported record quarterly revenue and saw net profit grow by 31% on the back of booming...

Didi Sets Valuation Target of $62 Billion to $67 Billion in IPO

June 24, 2021

June 24, 2021

Didi Global Inc., the Beijing-based ride-hailing company, is targeting a valuation of $62 billion to $67 billion in its IPO,...

Latin America Leads Revolt Against Free-Market Growth Model

June 2, 2021

June 2, 2021

Latin America, which led the developing world in adopting the market-friendly model of economic development, may now be leading the...

Deere Workers Approve New Contract, Ending Strike

November 18, 2021

November 18, 2021

Workers at Deere & Co. ratified a new six-year contract Wednesday, ending a strike against the farm and construction machinery...

Tyson Replaces CEO Dean Banks After Eight Months on the Job

June 2, 2021

June 2, 2021

Tyson Foods Inc. TSN 0.21% replaced its chief executive officer after about eight months on the job as the top...