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Furious 7 — the final film from the late Paul Walker — is expected to gross $115 million or more when opening at the North American box office this weekend, the top showing ever for an April title, not accounting for inflation.
Domestically, it is getting the widest release in Universal’s history with a theater count of roughly 4,003 (including Imax locations), eclipsing Despicable Me 2 (3,956). Anything north of 4,000 is usually reserved for summer tentpoles and year-end titles.
Overseas, the movie is also poised to do massive business, putting its global debut north of $250 million. Furious 7 is opening day-and-date around the world on 10,500 screens in 63 territories, save for a few major markets including China, Russia and Japan.
The current record-holder for top April opening domestically is Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which debuted to $95 million from 3,928 theaters last year.
Furious 7 is likewise poised to nab the biggest opening of 2015 to date. And if it beats the $121.9 million launch of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 in November 2014, it will mark the largest three-day opening since The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ($158 million) in November 2013.
The movie enjoys massive awareness and interest, due to both the popularity of the street-racing series and Walker’s death. The last film, Fast & Furious 6, debuted to a franchise-best $117 million over the four-day Memorial Day weekend in 2012, including $97.4 million for the three days, on its way to grossing $788.7 million worldwide.
Universal intended to open Furious 7 on July 11, 2014, but production was halted in November 2013 when Walker died in a car crash during the Thanksgiving hiatus. After director James Wan, writer Chris Morgan and Universal pored over existing footage and tweaked the script, production resumed in April 2014.
CGI and voice effects were used in some scenes featuring Walker’s detective character, Brian O’Conner, with Walker’s brothers, Caleb and Cody, used as stand-ins.
Furious 7 pits Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto and crew (which includes Michelle Rodriguez and Tyrese Gibson, among others, as well as Walker) against Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw, out for revenge after the death of his brother.
Furious 7 is expected to usher in a string of mega-openings at the box office this year. Disney and Marvel’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron, set to open May 1, hasn’t come on tracking yet, but some forecasters are already suggesting it could score the top opening of all time domestically, eclipsing the record-breaking start of The Avengers ($207 million) in 2012.
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