The Blockbuster Is Back As ‘F9’ Races Out Of The Gate With A Record-Breaking $70 Million Bow
The summer blockbuster is back! And that sound you just heard is Hollywood letting out its collective breath. After more than a year of delays, Universal’s latest entry in the money-minting Fast & Furious cycle, F9: The Fast Saga, burned rubber out of the gate with a massive $70 million domestic debut. The opening not only left all previous pandemic-era box-office records in the dust, but also marked the biggest North American bow since 2019’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Originally slated to hit multiplexes over Memorial Day weekend in 2020, F9 was one of the most high-profile tentpoles to be put on hold when the COVID-19 pandemic brought the theatrical movie business to a screeching halt more than a year ago. For adrenaline junkies, the long wait only intensified interest in the tenth installment of the stunt-happy, muscle-car franchise, which brought back series regulars Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez. Even with only 80% of the country’s theaters fully reopened, F9 managed to roar past the most recent chapter in the speed-demon saga – the spin-off Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, which opened to $60 million in August 2019 and went on to earn $173 million domestically and $759 worldwide. Prior to F9’s triumphant weekend, the previous pandemic-era opening-weekend record holder was A Quiet Place Part II, which bowed to a $47.5 million during its three-day Memorial Day frame.

Directed by returning series veteran Justin Lin, the PG-13-rated F9 unspooled in 4,179 locations and scored a fuel-injected $16,750 per-screen average. Overseas, where the film bowed earlier, the movie has already surpassed the $300 million mark. Its current $334.9 million international haul brings its worldwide gross to $404.9 million, putting it on track to become the first film to race past $500 million in global receipts since The Rise of Skywalker. With its $6.3 billion over the span of its 10 chapters, the Fast & Furious series is now the fifth highest-grossing film franchise of all time.

While the blockbuster failed to click with critics, who gave it a 59% green splat on Rotten Tomatoes, moviegoers were more revved up, giving it an 84% fresh rating and a ‘B+’ CinemaScore. Speaking of F9’s audience, the demographic break-down of first-weekend ticket buyers revealed that 60% of the film’s audience was male; 51% were under 25; and a sizable 37% were Latino. The $5.5 million grossed by F9 on IMAX screens was also the biggest domestic total for the format since Bad Boys for Life in 2020.

With no other new wide releases this weekend, the rest of the top five was basically the same old, same old in just a slightly different order. In the runner-up spot was A Quiet Place Part II, which is still making noise with $6.2 million in its fifth frame. Paramount’s PG-13-rated suspense sequel starring Emily Blunt fell off -31.8% from the previous weekend, scoring a $1,984 per-screen average in 3,124 theaters. Its domestic total now stands at $136.4 million. Overseas, the film has racked up $112 million to date, putting its current worldwide total at $248.5 million.

Dropping into third place was last week’s top dog, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, which scored $4.9 million in its second weekend. The Lionsgate action-thriller starring Salma Hayek, Ryan Reynolds, and Samuel L. Jackson, fell a steep -57.2% in its sophomore frame, earning a $1,450 per-screen average in 3,361 theaters. The R-rated sequel to 2017’s The Hitman’s Bodyguard now has a combined two-week domestic box-office total of $25.9 million. So far, the film has pulled in another $5.5 million from overseas, bringing its cumulative worldwide gross to $31.4 million.

Hopping into fourth place was Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway. Sony’s PG-rated family film, featuring the voice of James Corden, nibbled just under $4.9 million in its third week in North American theaters. The sequel dipped -20.3% from the previous frame, earning a $1,456 per-screen average in 3,331 locations. To date, the film has racked up $28.9 million at home, but a far more impressive $79 million from overseas, bringing its worldwide box-office total to $107.9 million.

Rounding out the top five was Disney’s Cruella. The live-action origin story of 101 Dalmatians villain Cruella De Vil made $3.7 million in its fifth weekend. The PG-13-rated film, which is also available on Disney+ for a $30 premium charge, slid -22.8% from the prior frame. Cruella had a $1,320 per-screen average in 2,820 theaters. The movie’s domestic now total stands at $71.3 million while its international take is $112.5 million, bringing its cumulative worldwide total to $183.8 million.

Making smaller ripples below the top ten were two new indie arrivals: IFC’s R-rated videogame adaptation, Werewolves Within, debuted in twelfth place with $223,000 in 270 theaters for a $825 per-screen average; while Sony Pictures Classics’ R-rated immigration-drama I Carry You with Me (which also stars Michelle Rodriguez) entered the chart in seventeenth place with $20,049 in just four theaters for a $5,012 per-screen average. Neither has opened internationally yet.