‘Furious 7’ still in driver’s seat
Action flick spends another weekend at No. 1, with ‘Home’ a distant second.
The film roared to another big weekend at the box office.
“Furious 7” again raced to the top spot at the box office this past weekend.
The latest installment from the Universal Pictures franchise dominated ticket sales with an estimated $60.6 million in the U.S. and Canada in its second weekend — a robust number despite a 59% drop from its debut weekend.
When factored in with its $143.6-million opening, the second-weekend receipts pushed the film’s total to $252.5 million — the highest ever for the franchise.
The film, which had a $190-million price tag, crossed the $200-million mark in just eight days, surpassing the studio’s previous record for reaching that milestone, set in 2013 by “Despicable Me 2” in 11 days.
Directed by James Wan (“Saw,” “Insidious,” “The Conjuring”), “Furious 7” passed $800 million worldwide in less than two weeks, with a big boost coming from China.
The action film opened in first place in China on Sunday with an estimated $68.6 million, the highest one-day gross ever for the country.
The final film for the late actor Paul Walker, “Furious 7” fills out its ensemble with Vin Diesel, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson and Michelle Rodriguez. They reach high speeds in Los Angeles, London, Tokyo, the Dominican Republic and Abu Dhabi.
Walker died in a car crash away from production in November 2013, and the release date was pushed back from July 2014. Computer effects were used to complete Walker’s remaining scene, and his brothers Caleb and Cody were brought in as stand-ins.
Curiosity about how the film would handle Walker’s death likely helped ticket sales, though Nicholas Carpou, Universal’s head of domestic distribution, said fan interest was a bigger factor opening weekend.
“While curiosity could be a factor, the first weekend would have been the one to quench that thirst,” Carpou said. “But what we’re seeing in some cases is that people are seeing it multiple times. … There’s tremendous interest on what this group of characters does next and what exploits they undergo.”
DreamWorks Animation’s “Home” landed in second place in its third weekend with $19 million, while this weekend’s romance newcomer “The Longest Ride” roped in the No. 3 spot.
The adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks tale, starring Scott Eastwood and Britt Robertson, brought in $13.5 million — in line with projections.
The 20th Century Fox film, about a rodeo star who romances a college student, cost $34 million to make and performed better than the most recent Sparks’ adaptation, “The Best of Me,” which opened in October to $10 million.
Still, “The Longest Ride” numbers were low for a Sparks adaptation. “Safe Haven” took in $21.4 million in its 2013 opening, and “The Lucky One” opened at $22.5 million in 2012.
“As the film moves forward and word of mouth spreads, things will pick up,” Chris Aronson, Fox’s head of distribution, said of “The Longest Ride.” “There’s a clear playing field ahead for a romantic film. And we saw that its strong suit was between the coasts.”
Though it didn’t find love with critics, audiences gave it an “A” rating with the polling firm Cinema Score. As Aronson noted, ticket sales were strong in Middle America and, as expected, the audience skewed female (73%).
“Get Hard,” the prison comedy starring Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart, came in fourth with $8.6 million in its third weekend. The Warner Bros. R-rated comedy, which cost $40 million, has grossed $71.2 million.
PG-rated “Cinderella,” meanwhile, rounded out the top five with $7.2 million. The Disney live-action film has brought in a domestic total of $180.8 million during its five weeks in theaters.
In limited release, the well-reviewed artificial intelligence thriller “Ex Machina” opened with an impressive $62,489 per-screen-average. The film, which marks the directorial debut of “28 Days Later” writer Alex Garland, will expand to more theaters April 24.
WHILE CRITICS didn’t love “Furious 7,” audiences have been enthusiastic, giving it an “A” rating.