Will 'Furious 7' Become Universal's First Billion-Dollar Baby?
The movie opened to a massive $384 million worldwide over Easter weekend, the No. 4 launch of all time.
Universal is the only major Hollywood studio never to have a movie earn $1 billion or more at the worldwide box office, at least in its first outing. But that could all change, thanks to the supercharged Furious 7, which opened to a record-breaking $384 million over Easter weekend.
Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park topped out at $970 million globally upon its original release in 1993, although its gross grew to $1.027 billion after Universal reissued the movie in 3D two decades later in summer 2013.
Otherwise, Universal's top earners are Despicable Me 2 ($970.8 million), E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial ($792.9 million) and Fast and Furious 6, which took in $239 domestically and $550 million overseas for a rousing total of $789 million in 2013.
Seasoned box-office pundits believe Furious 7 has every shot of crossing $1 billion by the end of its run, considering it opened well ahead of Furious 6 to nab the No. 4 global opening of all time at the worldwide box office, including $143.6 million domestically and $240.4 million overseas.
Insiders say Furious 7 — marking the final movie from the late Paul Walker — could ultimately gross north of $300 million in North America and between $700 million and $750 million overseas, where it has yet to open in China, Russia and Japan.
"Given that Furious 7 is already closing in on $400 million globally and has the marketplace pretty much to itself for the next month until Avengers: Age of Ultron opens, Universal is positioned perfectly for a race to the $1 billion mark," says Rentrak box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian.
One caveat, however, are unfavorable exchange rates. Because of the strong dollar, Hollywood studios are getting less back from overseas.
Domestically, Furious 7 opened 23 percent ahead of the $117 million earned by Furious 6 over the four-day Memorial Day weekend in 2013, and 47 percent ahead of Furious 6's three-day take of $97 million.
Only 19 movies have grossed $1 billion or more; that list is sure to grow this year between Furious 7, Age of Ultron (May 1), Spectre (Nov. 6) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Dec. 18).