Before we start, an announcement: This column shall henceforth be known as the “Furious 7 Box Office Winners & Losers” — at least for April. Because this weekend, yet again, Dominic Toretto and his BFFs made roadkill out of everyone else. Yet again, they shattered records like the windows of so many Abu Dhabi skyscrapers as one leapfrogs between them in a Lykan Hypersport. And yet again, Universal pulled in dump trucks full of cash from around the world to deposit, Scrooge McDuck–style, in Comcast’s money tower at 100 Universal City Plaza.
Technically, the domestic box office dipped 3 percent compared to 2014, maybe because the other studios were too afraid of getting clipped by Ludacris’s rearview to compete. However, that comparison hides the fact that last year Captain America: The Winter Soldier led a stronger pack of films with its $41 million second weekend. For Furious 7 in its second go-round to buoy the box office with only a 3 percent drop says it all. And 2015’s total domestic box office remains nearly 7 percent above last year, ready to shatter the record books with at least $11 billion. And Hollywood knows who to thank …
Winner: The House That Vin Built
So often in these digital pages we praise the artists and performers whose passion, hard work, and creative genius imagineer our filmed entertainments out of thin air; rarely do we remember the soulless corporate apparatchiks who marketing-blitz our subconscious into the ravenous state of anticipation that produces hits. True, usually those people don’t deserve it. But every once in a while … You see, Universal got hit with the cruelest of curves when Paul Walker’s death temporarily shuttered shooting on its most valuable film property. Far less has ended franchises less long in the tooth. But somehow Universal pulled off arguably the best film of the series and wisely rescheduled its release to April, taking it out of the nightmare of July 2014, when it would have shared theaters with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and guaranteeing it nothing but the open road of early 2015.
The numbers speak for themselves: Furious 7 pulled in $60.6 million in its second weekend of release, dropping 59 percent. For other films, 60 percent is a huge drop, but with an opening like Furious 7’s, the Laws of Big-Ass Numbers come into play. You just can’t sustain monster returns in a second weekend — unless the movie’s, um, good. So, Furious 7 earned titles for best second weekend in April and the 12th-best second weekend ever; the only other Fast & Furious movie to drop less was the original.
Enough puny percentages, let’s get to the real numbers: Furious 7 has earned $252.5 million in just 10 days of domestic release, more money than Fast & Furious 6 earned in its entire 15-week run ($238.6 million). If it keeps playing this well all April, it’ll likely hit $400 million domestic, putting it well above recent mega-hits like Mockingjay — Part I, American Sniper, and Guardians of the Galaxy. But as always, the real showstopper is its worldwide haul: $800 million. In less than two weeks. And it still hasn’t opened in Japan, which trails only the U.S. and China1 as a film market. So, yes, Furious 7’s definitely joining the billion-dollar club — possibly next week — and the only question now is where it will land on the No Qualifications Necessary All-Time High list — above Iron Man 3, Frozen, or, dare we imagine … Harry Potter?
Loser: The Latest Sparks
Among its many superlatives, Furious 7 also set the all-time single-day gross in China with $68.6 million on Sunday.
There was a new release this weekend? Sorry, I was too busy composing dactylic hexameters in praise of Vin Diesel’s box office biceps. In fact, the latest adaptation of cash factory/author Nicholas Sparks’s novels bowed; it’s a further testament to Furious 7 that it can make Sparks look like a loser by comparison. The Longest Ride opened at no. 3 with $13.5 million, marking the screen-hunk debut of Scott “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Clint!” Eastwood. In fairness, that’s right in line with expectations, albeit lowered ones: Up until The Best of Me dropped with an over-ripe plop of $10 million in October, Sparks adaptations typically started in the $20 million range. So The Longest Ride is better than the worst but not on par with the Sparksian average of $17.4 million. However, I’ll admit that Nicholas Sparks movies are essentially black boxes to me: I have no idea what demonic incantations cause them to spew money, I just know that they do. And this one only cost $34 million to make, so if it holds, The Longest Ride may get an upward Winner revision later on. If Dom allows it.
Moral Victory: The Art House
When one massive leviathan like Furious 7 sucks up all the oxygen, it makes it hard on everyone but the pilot fish feeding off the scraps stuck between its teeth. Surprisingly, not everyone wanted to see cars parachuting out of planes a second time this weekend, and the art house bottom-feeders cleaned up (comparatively) in Furious 7’s blockbuster wake. Ex Machina, Alex Garland’s take on the Turing test (an AI passes when you can’t help but hit on it), dominated specialty releases with $249,956 in just four theaters for a 2015-best $62,489 per-screen average. In more hard-core art, Olivier Assayas’s Clouds of Sils Maria nabbed a respectable $23,333 per-screen average in just three theaters ($70,000). Three indies also expanded well enough to break into the top 10: The Weinstein Company’s Woman in Gold did it best with $5.8 million in 1,504 theaters; Danny Collins, a.k.a. Remember Al Pacino?, made $1.6 million in 739; and Noah Baumbach’s misanthropic little gem While We’re Young pulled in $1.4 million from only 246 theaters. Sure, these amount to rounding errors in Furious 7’s international returns, but … moral victory! Ryan Gosling’s directing debut, Lost River, also opened, but we won’t get into that here; let’s preserve that illusion of moral victory a little longer.
The Furious 7 Second Weekend Top Five
- Furious 7, Universal, $60.6 million ($252.5 million domestic total)
- Home, Fox/DreamWorks, $19 million ($129.6 million domestic total)
- The Longest Ride, Fox, $13.5 million
- Get Hard, Warner Bros., $8.6 million ($71.2 million domestic total)
- Cinderella, Disney, $7.2 million ($180.7 million domestic total)