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The latest “Fast and Furious” movie leads weekend box office

Los Angeles — The Fast & Furious series brought Hollywood the highest box office revenue since December 2019. This provides further evidence that the American entertainment industry is accelerating towards normal conditions.

The ninth car racing franchise, F9: The Fast Saga, has raised an estimated $ 70 million from domestic theaters. Its opening is only the sixth best in the series so far, but it comes after several releases that show that movie fans are steadily motivated to return to the theater and adventure.

“This movie proves that we’re coming out of it,” said Jim O, president of domestic theater distribution.

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Universal Pictures that distributed the movie.

The opening of F9 is the best Hollywood release since Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalkers in late 2019, encouraging Godzilla vs. Kong and A Quiet Place Part II in March. Continue to the opening of. May.

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However, F9 provides the clearest test to date for post-pandemic movie fan habits. The film has been the most anticipated title since the pandemic closed the theater, with approximately 80% of the auditorium reopening and full seating allowed in major cities.

Throughout the US economy, vendors, executives, and investors monitor indicators such as box office revenue to see how entertainment conditions will be shaped after Covid-19. The signs of life are immediate. On Saturday, Bruce Springsteen resumed his hit Broadway show “Broadway Springsteen” with a fully vaccinated crowd. Summer concerts are in full swing at venues such as the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.

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The theme park has extended business hours and relaxed attendance restrictions. Returning to pre-pandemic habits is encouraging and necessary for the American film business, which deals with expensive films that are significantly delayed in the weeks that will be shown after “F9.”

In particular, “F9” is also an unlikely indicator of how Hollywood planned to survive the pandemic. In March 2020, a few days after the blockade became a reality for most Americans, Universal pushed the original May 2020 release for almost a year. This decision shocked every corner of Hollywood. That’s because it showed that Universal Brass predicted that the pandemic would put major releases on the shelves months longer than expected. The film eventually lags a few more times, moving one of the studio’s most important and lucrative franchises away from the theater, forcing competitors to adjust their calendars accordingly.

A poster of “F9” held at a subway station in China in May. The film generated more than $ 200 million in box office revenue.


Photo:

VCG / Getty Images

Universal wanted to wait for most of the top markets to come back online before releasing the movie, Ol said. He said Toronto is still the only important movie-watching city with theaters closed and is likely to have cut box office revenue by millions of dollars from this weekend’s total.

The F9 was premiered in certain international markets a few weeks ago and raised a total of $ 335 million, including more than $ 200 million in China, the world’s second largest movie market. Box office revenues in China plummeted in the second week of the movie’s release, indicating poor reaction from viewers. According to CinemaScore’s market research firm, the American crowd gave it a “B +” grade.

Around the time when high-priced releases such as “F9” were delayed last year, Universal also began releasing theater releases directly to their homes. This decision, which meant that movies like “Trolls World Tour” would premiere in the living room instead of on the big screen, was angry with some cinema operators, but soon became an industry standard. became.

Today, all studios are choosing a combination of release strategies. To show how rough the release schedule looks, Universal’s next two releases, The Boss Baby: Family Business and Forever Purge, will both premiere on July 2nd. The sequel to “Purge” is the sequel to “The Boss Baby” not only played in theaters, but also streamed on the in-house streaming service Peacock.

Write to Erich Schwarzel erich.schwartzel@wsj.com

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The latest “Fast and Furious” movie leads weekend box office

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