The Fate of the Furious (Fast and Furious 8) has raced to the top of the box office chart – breaking an international record in the process. The eighth film in the action thriller franchise took an estimated $532.5m (£424.7m) globally over the Easter weekend. The figure makes it the strongest worldwide debut ever – marginally overtaking the $529m (£421.8m) taken by Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
And true to their name, Nigerian movie pirates have cashed in on the opportunity and have already made copies of the franchise for sale. During the week, Friday Treat observed street vendors in Lagos and Ibadan selling pirated copies of the week-old action movie.
Speaking with one of the street DVD vendors who spoke on condition of anonymity, he said that though the movie was not of highest screen quality, it was very ‘watchable’. Asking if he wasn’t afraid of being arrested for selling pirated discs, he said that as he wasn’t directly involved in the copying of the movie, all he was doing was trying to make quick money to fend for his family.
“The film is new and selling fast. Many do not have time to go to the cinema so are happy to buy from us. I don’t know if I am committing a crime because someone got a hold of the movie during release and decided to make copies of it. The law should find that person and prosecute him. I am sure this CD is being sold around the world and even the cinemas are making money. Everyone is happy”, he said.
However, the film’s US takings were down sharply on the previous movie. Furious 7 opened with $147.2m (£117.3m) in the US when it was released in 2015 – but the latest instalment of the series debuted with $100.2m (£80m).
The Fate of the Furious, titled Fast and Furious 8 in some territories, stars Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel, who said he felt “grateful, humbled and blessed” after the film’s success Rhianna Dhillon, film critic and host of BBC Radio 4’s Seriously… podcast, said the success of the Fast & Furious franchise is down to its “universal appeal”.
“They’re films people of all ages can enjoy, because they have that pure, unadulterated escapism about them, children and adults alike are quite happy to watch things get blown up and smashed up,” she said.
“A lot of what drags movies like The Avengers down is the plot, and Fast & Furious isn’t trying to compete with those heavy, convoluted storylines. This is just cars smashing into each other and it’s okay to enjoy that.
“This franchise isn’t trying to be anything it’s not. Ultimately, from the bottom up, it doesn’t take itself too seriously.”
Dhillon said the diversity of the cast is one of the key reasons the film series has seen continued box office success.
“Hollywood really underestimates minority audiences,” she said. “For example, if you break down the figures, the Latino audience is huge, what with Vin Diesel’s following. I think that has so much to do with it, because not many films offer that.”
She added: “The franchise still attracts huge stars each time – this year as the villain we have Charlize Theron, there’s an appearance from Helen Mirren. These aren’t people you’ve never heard of, they have the most bankable movie stars in the world.
“And Dwayne Johnson has given the films a new lease of life – when you buy a star like him, you’re buying his fans as well.”
Despite the drop of nearly a third on the seventh film, the US performance of The Fate of the Furious is still pretty impressive – it accounted for nearly two-thirds of all US box office takings over the weekend. Its nearest competitor was ‘The Boss Baby’, which took a further $15.5m (£12.4m) to land second place.
The film’s worldwide performance was boosted by opening in China on the same weekend as other major markets, unlike the Force Awakens, which did not start screening there until several weeks later.
The Fate of the Furious saw three-day takings of $190m (£151m) in China. More chapters in the Furious franchise, which began in 2001, are planned for release in 2019 and 2021.
About Fast and Furious 8
On the heels of 2015’s Fast and Furious 7, one of the fastest movies to reach $1 billion worldwide and the sixth-biggest global title in box-office history, comes the newest chapter in one of the most popular and enduring motion-picture serials of all time: Fast and Furious 8.
Now that Dom and Letty are married and Brian and Mia have retired from the game—and the rest of the crew has been exonerated—the globetrotting team has found a semblance of a normal life. But when a mysterious woman seduces Dom into the world of crime he can’t seem to escape and a betrayal of those closest to him, they will face trials that will test them as never before.
From the shores of Cuba and the streets of New York City to the icy plains off the arctic Barents Sea, our elite force will crisscross the globe to stop an anarchist from unleashing chaos on the world’s stage…and to bring home the man who made them a family.
Fast and Furious 8 features a returning all-star cast, as well as a star-studded array of newcomers to this world – Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Helen Mirren, Nathalie Emmanuel, Elsa Pataky, Scott Eastwood with Kurt Russell and Charlize Theron.
Now playing across the Philippines, Fast & Furious 8 is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.