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'F9: The Fast Saga' smashes pandemic-era opening record in North America

Published Jun 28, 2021 11:39 am

Universal's new F9: The Fast Saga not only lapped all other films in North American theaters this weekend, it pulverized them with an estimated take of $70 million (P3.4 billion), industry watcher Exhibitor Relations reported Sunday.

Confirming the persistent appeal of fast cars and muscle-bound men, this ninth installment in the Fast and Furious franchise easily became the biggest money-maker since the COVID-19 pandemic began, even as one in five US theaters and most of those in Canada remain shuttered. Ticket sales overseas have passed $300 million (P15 billion).

The plot? Suffice it to say that Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and John Cena have to deal not only with exploding cars, plane crashes and private armies but also rocket cars, electromagnetic weapons and ominous satellites.

The big-screen homage to hulking men, speedy cars and gravity-defying stunts is giving some much-needed momentum to the movie theater business.

Coming in second -- left far behind in the dust of F9 -- was Paramount's A Quiet Place Part II, at $6.2 million (P301 million) for the three-day weekend. The John Krasinski-directed horror film, starring his wife Emily Blunt, has shown staying power, however. Since its release five weeks ago it has taken in $136 million (P7 billion) domestically and $112 million (P5.4 billion) overseas.

In third place was The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard, from Lionsgate, at $4.88 million (P237 million). The action comedy has Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Salma Hayek reprising their roles from 2017's The Hitman's Bodyguard.

In fourth, down one spot from last weekend, was Sony's family-friendly Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, at $4.85 million (P236 million). The mixed live-action/animation has James Corden voicing the title role, with live performances by Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson and David Oyelowo.

And again in fifth place was Disney's family-friendly origin film Cruella, at $3.7 million (P180 million). Emma Stone stars as the pooch-tormenting title villain.

So, how should Hollywood be feeling about its incipient recovery? "The industry is still settling" after its 15-month shutdown, David Gross, who runs movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research, told Variety. "The effects of the pandemic will take time to heal, (but) the new normal is coming." 

Hollywood trade publication Variety noted that F9 gave a much-needed bost to the film industry.

"The big-screen homage to hulking men, speedy cars and gravity-defying stunts is giving some much-needed momentum to the movie theater business, which has been struggling to rebound as audiences begin to feel comfortable returning to their local multiplex," commented Variety.

Rounding out the top 10 were:

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It ($2.9 million or P141 million)

In the Heights ($2.2 million or P107 million)

Spirit Untamed ($1 million or P49 million)

12 Mighty Orphans ($592,000 or P29 million)

Nobody ($560,000 or P27 million)

(Story, banner, and thumbnail photo from AFP)