December 7, 2022

After more than a year of delays, Universal’s “F9” is finally coming to domestic cinemas.

The ninth installment in the Fast and Furious film franchise, “F9,” made its international debut last month and grossed more than $ 300 million in ticket sales, including more than $ 200 million in China.

North American theater owners are hoping the success will repeat itself in the US after the film was shown in more than 4,000 domestic theaters this weekend.

While the previous film “The Fate of the Furious” grossed nearly $ 100 million on the opening weekend, Universal is more conservative in its estimates for the debut of “F9”. The studio expects ticket sales of around $ 60 million over the three-day run, which would be the highest profit of any post-pandemic movie.

This would be in line with what Hobbs and Shaw, a Fast and Furious spin-off, produced during its domestic opening in 2019.

“Any movie that starts with more than $ 40 million is a good number,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore.

So far, “A Quiet Place Part II” holds the record for the highest pandemic opening with almost 50 million US dollars. “Godzilla vs. Kong” grossed $ 32.2 million on the April opening weekend and “Cruella” hit $ 37.4 million on its May release.

“F9” is currently topping “A Quiet Place Part II” advance sales over the same period, Fandango told CNBC.

“We have had a solid flow of great products since May 28, and this momentum flowing into the release of F9 appears to enable a pandemic record opening,” said Jeff Kaufman, senior vice president of film at Malco Theaters. “The series is great, and this particular film is excellent in both execution and entertainment value. He will delight everyone. The overseas audience has already reacted positively and we hope to see the same reaction here. “

“F9” hits theaters at a time when restrictions related to Covid are easing and more theaters are opening up to the public.

As vaccination rates continue to rise and the number of coronavirus cases subsides, consumer confidence in cinemas has increased. This audience is also exposed to fresh movie marketing on the big screen, which could tempt them to return for future releases – especially movies like “F9” which are only available in theaters and will only be streamed at a later date.

“Seat limitation and the general caution of some viewers remain important factors in balancing all box office expectations,” said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Boxoffice.com. “I also keep in mind that this particular sequel was expected to experience some franchise fatigue long before the pandemic caused its multiple delays.”

Over the past decade, these franchise films have grown in popularity with international audiences, with the bulk of their ticket sales outside of the United States and Canada. In fact, in 2017 the “Fate of the Furious” achieved only $ 226 million domestically, but sold more than $ 1 billion in tickets internationally, according to Comscore.

In recent years, international box office sales have become increasingly important for large budget studio films, including films released by Disney’s Marvel Studios and Warner Bros. ‘ Low DC. Still, it was disproportionately important to the Fast and Furious franchise. Since “Fast & Furious 6” in 2013, more than 70% of the franchise’s box office revenue has come from international ticket sales.

“Is the needle moving back in favor of the movie because of the pent-up need for action on the big screen? It is possible, but we will have to wait and see in these unusual times,” said Robbins.

He said the international box office results are in line with expectations, considering many markets have given fewer vaccines compared to the US

“Overall, I’d cautiously expect ‘F9’ to set a new benchmark for the pandemic era for the opening weekend here in the domestic market, but the cinema rebound remains an ongoing process,” Robbins said.

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal owns Fandango and is the distributor of “F9”.