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‘Fate of the Furious’ on road to record global debut

Apr 18,2017
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The eighth installment of the action-packed franchise “The Fast and the Furious” was a big winner in the both Korean and North American weekend box offices. [UPI KOREA]
The eighth installment of the “Fast and Furious” series is on track to becoming the biggest worldwide debut of all time, besting both “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Jurassic World.”

“The Fate of the Furious,” the latest film in the American action franchise, dominated Korea’s weekend box office, accounting for 63.8 percent of all ticket sales, far ahead of the runner-up “Daddy You, Daughter Me,” a Korean family drama that took just 11.8 percent.

Starring Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson and Michelle Rodriguez, the rip-roaring action-packed flick sold 1.06 million tickets at 1,467 screens in Korea from Friday to Sunday, raking in 9.1 billion won ($8 million). The movie has so far sold 1.43 million seats since it was released here on Wednesday. Universal Pictures on Sunday estimated “The Fate of the Furious” would earn a record $532.5 million worldwide over the Easter and Passover holiday weekend, thanks to a particularly robust showing in 63 markets including China.

If the figures hold, it will just inch past the previous record holder, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which made $529 million during its December 2015 debut without China.

“The Fate of the Furious” has already broken the record for biggest international weekend ever, with $432.3 million. The previous record holder was ”Jurassic World” with $316.7 million.

“There is no market that hasn’t had a strong reception,” said Duncan Clark, Universal’s president of international distribution. “Whatever culture, whatever language, whatever country, we seem to have found a home.”

The China opening alone brought in a record $190 million followed by $17.8 million from Mexico and $17 million from the U.K. and Ireland.

An estimated $100.2 million of the global total comes from 4,310 North American theaters - a second best for the franchise and enough to easily top the domestic charts, but well below the $147.2 million opening of “Furious 7” in 2015.

“Furious 7” had a groundswell of additional interest due to the death of actor Paul Walker, who played cop-turned-street-racer Brian O’Conner, a lead character in six of the films. He died in a car crash while the film was still in production.

The “Fast and the Furious” is a global juggernaut for Universal Pictures, which plans two additional pictures. With the addition of “Fast 8,” the franchise has earned an estimated $4.4 billion globally.

“It is a franchise that has adapted and changed over the years and is as relevant in 2017 as it was in 2001,” noted Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for comScore. “The ‘Furious’ franchise perfectly represents what that global audience is all about. They’re poised perfectly for installments 9 and 10 to do very well. It’s still firing on all cylinders.”

In Korea, “Daddy You, Daughter Me,” a family film about a high school-aged girl and her father switching bodies, came in second with 206,000 tickets sold during its debut weekend. There was some controversy when star actor Yoon Je-moon attended a promotional interview for the movie and appeared to be hungover.

Yoon, who was caught driving under the influence of alcohol for the third time last year, had to leave the interview in the middle. His behavior came under severe public criticism, especially because the release date of “Daddy You, Daughter Me” had to been pushed back for almost a year due to his alcohol problems last year.

Disney’s live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast” managed to round out the top three in its fifth weekend in Korea. It has so far sold a total of 4.86 million seats to become the best-selling foreign film released so far in Korea this year.

In North America, the rest of the chart looked sleepy in comparison to the fresh fuel of “The Fate of the Furious.”

“The Boss Baby” took second with $15.5 million, while “Beauty and the Beast” held on to third place with $13.6 million.

“Beauty and the Beast” crossed the $1 billion mark worldwide this weekend. Rounding out the top five were “Smurfs: The Lost Village” with $6.5 million and “Going in Style” with $6.4 million.

The summer movie season really kicks into high gear in a few weeks when “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” goes into orbit on May 5.

BY JIN MIN-JI, AP [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]