It’s a sign of success when the 1st spin-off of your wholly original, near-20 year movie franchise can race to a $60m opening, yet for this same start to be considered so-so. ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ of ‘Fast & Furious’ fame did just that this weekend, coming in under most pre-release forecasts, yet delivering a ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’-like $60m to finish as the weekend’s number 1. Meanwhile, ‘The Lion King’ took another step in becoming the king of the Disney-remake jungle, while Quentin Tarantino’s new hit ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ closes in on the $100m domestic mark.
How did the new releases get on?
Just the single entrant this weekend came in the form of ‘Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw’, the Dwayne Johnson/Jason Statham-fronted action-adventure flick opened to $60m, ending ‘The Lion King’s 2 weekend stronghold atop the charts. It’s an opening that should be expected from the follow-up of a franchise with recent diminishing returns, as ‘Furious 7’s $147.2m opening 4 years ago was followed by ‘Fate of the Furious’ $98.8m in 2017, meaning a similar 35% fall was always in store then for the Vin Diesel-less spin-off.
It also marks the biggest domestic opening outside of the main ‘Fast & Furious’ films for stars Johnson and Statham, beating out the likes of ‘Moana’ ($56.6m) and ‘The Meg’ ($45.4m), as well as Universal’s 2nd biggest opening of the year (after ‘Us’ $71.1m in March). Most interesting, however, is its mirroring of last summer’s action-hit ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ which opened to $61.2m, on its way to a $220.2m domestic total.
While the films are identical in the States, it’s abroad that ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ pulls ahead, earning $120m from 63 countries (China not included). In comparison, ‘Fallout’ opened overseas to $94.6m, and finished with $571m internationally, with a 28:72 domestic-international split. ‘Fast and Furious’ movies usually have a similar ratio, with $2.2bn of ‘Furious 7’ and ‘Fate’s $2.7bn combined global earnings coming from overseas. It’s not the U.S. and it’s ‘okay’ opening that’ll be carefully examined by Universal, it’s the performance everywhere else.
That’s a good thing too, because if there was something to be concerned about, it’s the domestic legs. ‘Hobbs & Shaw’s A- on Cinemascore is the lowest of the franchise since the ‘Fast Five’ renaissance began, and if ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ manages to fall below the average 2.35x opening weekend multiplier that we’ve seen from the last 2 installments, it may not even reach $140m. A lack of major action-heavy competition until ‘Angel has Fallen’ at the end of the month could help push this to $160m+, but that’s a big if, considering that ‘Fast and Furious’ loyal fanbase already came out in droves in the opening weekend, leaving mainly the casuals and walk-ups left.
Why exactly did Universal spend $200m on this, then? Granted, with a similar dom-int ratio as above, we’re looking at a global finish of $700m, and the entire franchise sitting on a comfy $6bn. However, studios get a fraction of domestic earnings, and an even smaller number from grosses overseas (don’t even mention the pittance from China). Surely the budget could’ve been streamlined here?
Put simply, Universal couldn’t afford not to spend big. Recent efforts at a successful franchise in the vein of the MCU, Star Wars, the DCEU (success is subjective), Annabelle, and even Mission: Impossible, have either ended in flames (The Dark Universe), are on their last legs (Jurassic World), or aren’t critical hits (Minions). ‘Fast & Furious’, whether the main event or an offshoot, needs to be big, brash, and ballsy to play with the big boys. And whether or not you’re convinced a $60m domestic opening does that, a near-$200m worldwide start – without the 2nd largest movie market in the world – definitely does.
How did the others do?
‘The Lion King’ dropped to 2nd place this weekend, earning $38.5m in its 3rd outing for a $431m running domestic total. Now $40m ahead of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ at the same time in its stateside run (as well as just $70m away from ‘Beauty’s entire domestic haul), it’s only a matter of time until it becomes Disney’s biggest live-action remake.
Finally, Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ closed down on the $100m domestic mark, with a $20m 2nd weekend. Now on $80m, it’ll reach the coveted figure by next Sunday to become only his 4th film, after ‘Pulp Fiction’, ‘Inglorious Basterds’, and ‘Django Unchained’ to get there.
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