It looks like “Furious 7” is going to make a gigantic splash at the box office when it's released in three weeks. In fact, according to early tracking figures, the newest installment in the popular action franchise might even break some records.
The film has drummed up a ton of excitement and even topped YouTube views for the week when the first trailer was released. It has given fans across many demographics reason to chirp gears to the theater. According to the Hollywood Reporter, box-office pundits with early access to tracking figures say “Furious 7” could have an opening between $110 million and $115 million.
The franchise, which started in 2001 with "The Fast and the Furious," has enjoyed increasing success since the fourth film, 2009's “Fast & Furious,” in which all of the principal characters from the first movie, including Vin Diesel, returned. It struck lightning with “Fast Five” in 2011 and again with “Fast & Furious 6” in 2013. Each film grossed significantly more than the last in its opening weekend. According to Box Office Mojo, the fourth movie grossed more than $70 million, the fifth more than $86 million and the sixth a series record of more than $97 million.
“Furious 7” has a lot of wind at its back for a very unfortunate reason. During a break from production in November 2013, franchise star Paul Walker died in a tragic car accident. The 40-year-old actor, who had played Brian O’Conner since the first film, was riding in a car being driven by his friend Roger Rodas. When the driver lost control, the two crashed into a tree at close to 100 mph. The car burst into flames and neither survived.
With “Furious 7” not quite done filming, producers put it on hiatus while they figured out what to do. The movie, which originally was to be released in July 2014, was completed using a combination of footage already shot of Walker, voice-over, CGI and Walker's brothers Caleb and Cody as stand-ins.
And it looks like the studio isn’t planning to shut things down after “Furious 7.”
“We think there's at least three more,” Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley told the Hollywood Reporter in a separate interview. “Paul is, and always will be, an integral part of the story. But there are many other great characters, and it's also an opportunity to introduce new characters. I think it's still a growing franchise. We'll see what happens with ‘Furious 7,’ obviously, but our box office has grown over the past three or four films and internationally, in particular. So we think that there's more to mine there. But we're of course very mindful about fatigue.”
“Furious 7” hits theaters on April 3 and will bring back most of the characters from the previous movie and pit them against a vengeful Jason Statham. Check out the explosive trailer below.