On Screen China: ‘Fate of the Furious’ Set To Peel Out

Revving its engines for a historic Chinese run, The Fate of the Furious will leave its record-setting predecessor huffing dust on its way to becoming the highest-grossing imported film of all-time.

The Fate of the Furious (速度与激情8)

China Distribution – China Film Group Corporation (中国电影集团公司)
U.S. Distribution – Universal Pictures

For North American observers struggling to comprehend the success of The Fast and the Furious franchise in the world’s second largest film market, the best comparison might be Star Wars. Not just from a box office perspective — both are top-grossing franchises in their respective territories — but also in terms of nostalgia: China’s younger (male) moviegoers have grown up with the series and the stars, originally through widely distributed pirate discs in the early ‘00s, and to a large extent they consider The Fast and the Furious theirs.

The Fate of the Furious — rebranded in Chinese as The Fast and the Furious 8 to make clear its connection to Furious 7, the current highest-grossing Hollywood film ever in the territory (and also because eight, duh) — arrives in cinemas today, tires smoking and with a coveted day-and-date release. Expectations are naturally through the roof given the benchmarks established by its predecessor in April 2015, including:

    • Biggest midnight gross of all-time – RMB 52.46 million ($8.5 million)
    • *Biggest opening day of all-time (w/o midnights) – RMB 346 million ($55.7 million)
    • **Highest number of single day screenings – 80,700
    • ***Highest-grossing film of all-time – RMB 2.426 billion ($391 million)

*Current record holder – Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back (RMB 356 million)
**Current record holder – Warcraft (122,000)
***Current record holder – The Mermaid (RMB 3.392 billion)

Two of those records have already been rewritten: Furious 8’s midnight screenings Thursday grossed RMB 55 million exclusive of online ticketing surcharges ($8.0 million), and Friday the film will open with a record 150,000 screenings.

In addition, almost twenty thousand new screens have been built since Furious 7’s debut, nearly doubling filmgoer capacity, and those extra seats, especially in lower-tier cities where opening weekend sell-outs shut out fans last time around, will boost The Fast and the Furious 8’s opening into stratospheric heights.

CFI predicts a three-day cume between RMB 1.4 and 1.5 billion ($200 – $225 million), but if word of mouth takes off, come Monday Furious 8 may hold a new record: biggest opening weekend in any single territory. The current holder? Star Wars: The Force Awakens with $248 million.