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Universal’s F9 — the latest high octane Fast & Furious installment taking in $135.6 million in China alone and $162.4 million internationally on its opening weekend — should ignite a U.S. box office recovery as the summer season kicks into gear, Imax CEO Richard Gelfond said Tuesday.
“I expect the U.S. to bounce back very quickly,” Gelfond told the Credit Suisse 2021 Annual Communications Conference during a virtual appearance. The Imax boss added F9 was the first test for the Asian film market, and came through strongly with its opening weekend debut.
“Clearly, there’s a tremendous amount of pent-up demand,” Gelfond added as F9 offered the biggest showing in the pandemic-era internationally for a Hollywood title. F9, among a slew of 2020 event movies delayed by the pandemic, opted for a staggered rollout across the globe to allow for theaters to regain their footing in other markets.
The Fast & Furious installment debuts in the U.S. — where cinemas continue to reopen with capacity restrictions — on June 25. Gelfond is also encouraged by the sheer number of the Hollywood studios’ delayed, action-oriented features now set to debut within weeks of one another as the summer cinema-going season picks up steam.
“The amount of content is actually an opportunity going forward,” Gelfond added, forecasting that the North American box office was likely to gather pace starting in the third quarter of 2021 as titles like Disney’s Black Widow, Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi epic Dune and the James Bond installment No Time to Die debut into the fall.
“We expect the third quarter to be when results will be comparable to before this [pandemic] all started,” Gelfond told the investors conference.
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