“Furious 7” is on track to roll into theaters with record ticket sales, industry insiders predict. The “Fast and the Furious” sequel starring the late Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and the Rock, which opens Friday, is expected to cross the $115 million domestic mark this weekend. Universal Studios is making “Furious 7” its largest worldwide release to date with more than 14,500 screens, including IMAX theaters.
The flick is also likely to burn the previous April release record for “Captain America: Winter Soldier” in 2014. That Phase 2 Marvel movie earned $95 million at the domestic box office on just 3,928 screens. “Furious 7” will take over 4,003 theaters in the U.S., a number usually reserved for summer blockbusters. Incidentally, “Captain America: Winter Soldier” took the April title from a previous “Furious” sequel, “Fast Five” which it held from 2011.
Originally, the plan was to have “Furious 7” debut in the middle of the busy summer season last year. But with Walker's sudden death, the production took a hiatus. With some rewrites, movie magic in the form of CGI and Walker’s brothers Cody and Caleb, it was possible to complete the film.
“Furious 7” is only the beginning of a heavy-hitting sequel year. In May, both “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Mad Max: Fury Road” are set to start up the summer box office. In the fall, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2” is set to dominate theaters as its predecessor did last year. The highly anticipated “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” will close out 2015 in December.
The global phenomenon of the "Fast and Furious" franchise started as a surprise hit in 2001. The original movie, "The Fast and the Furious," made on a budget of $38 million, brought in almost $207 million internationally. The last film in the series, “Fast & Furious 6,” racked up a staggering $787 million haul from its worldwide box office. For “Furious 7” to surpass that would be no mean feat.
Other movies playing this weekend include last weekend’s surprise box office champ, “Home.” The family movie is expected to hold on to the top five spot for a low $30 million second weekend. Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart’s new comedy “Get Hard” may dip for a low $20 million take thanks to “Furious 7” attracting its core male audience. There are no other wide releases to charge against “Furious 7,” but art houses will open the romantic “5 to 7,” the animated “Cheatin’” from Bill Plympton and the Emma Thompson film, “Effie Gray.” Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds also are opening a new film, “Woman in Gold.”
“Furious 7” opens in theaters Friday, April 3.