GLOBAL PREVIEW: Why the 'Fast & Furious' Franchise is the Model for Today's Global Blockbusters on May 23, 2013


By Daniel Loria

Chris, the 5 year-old screenwriter cited by The Onion as the screenwriter for Fast Five, claimed in a 2011 interview that the Fast & Furious franchise had enough material for 600 sequels. The satirical clip might be on to something after Fast & Furious 6 opened at the U.K. box office last week with $13.2 million ahead of this weekend's global day-and-date expansion.

The Fast & Furious franchise is a perfect example of how today's blockbuster films are developed with global box office numbers in mind. The original cast was reunited in 2009 with Fast and Furious after an international spin-off, 2006's The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, failed to gain any significant traction. With the pieces in place and renewed popular interest, Universal set out to retool the franchise -molding it into a global heist thriller; the obnoxious, loud patrimony derived from the comparatively compact and effete legacy of The Italian Job (1969).

The focus of the films went from the niche world of street racing to the more accessible heist thrillers that can pull in a wider audience by including action sequences and higher narrative stakes. The franchise embraced the globetrotting exoticism that adorns James Bond films by setting the fifth entry in Brazil, with a vibrant soundtrack and marketing campaign to match the allure of Rio de Janeiro. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson joined the cast to add global box office clout to the film's star power. 

The previous entry in the franchise grossed a series-best $628 million globally, including an eye-opening $418.7 million take. Fast & Furious 6 has the potential to be one of the summer's biggest hits and has its sights set on a $500 million overseas cume. Whether or not it gets there will largely depend on the film's staying power. A market-leading opening weekend is all but assured, but the film will have to retain viewers through the coming weeks if it wants to meet the lofty expectations set by Fast Five.

The trailer for Fast & Furious 6 features exotic locales, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, a globe-trotting storyline, Vin Diesel saying "That's the deal: take it or leave it," explosions, men with big muscles wearing tight and/or sleeveless shirts, car chases, attractive women in short skirts, a tank, Ludacris, more car chases, Michelle Rodriguez asking if you believe in ghosts, and a car chasing an exploding airplane.

Fast & Furious 6 will open in North America and over 50 overseas markets throughout the weekend. The biggest performers out of the gate promise to be Russia, Brazil, and Mexico. Key markets like Australia, China, and South Korea are coming up later this summer. 

Can 'Epic' Replicate the Success of 'The Croods?'

Epic expands beyond Latin America with a $19.9 million head start. The animated film will hit theaters across Europe and the Middle East this weekend, including key markets like France, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Epic will become the first animated film to hit screens in the last two months for most territories, hoping to catch some of the windfall from the The Croods' $376 million overseas run.

Poor Reviews Won't Stop 'The Hangover Part III' in Australia and the U.K.  

The Hangover Part III is opening in a handful of English-speaking territories this weekend, coinciding with the film's North American release. The Hangover Part III is the third (and reportedly final) entry/rehash in the trilogy about a group of grown men who wake up with headaches before going off on zany adventures that usually involve a zoo animal. Bad reviews have dampened some of the film's buzz heading into the weekend, a factor complicated by the previous entry's similarly poor critical reception. The Hangover Part III should be the frontrunner for the top spot in Australia and the U.K., benefiting from markets with few new comedies in release.

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UK: 'Fast & Furious 6' Rushes to First Place on May 22, 2013

fandf6.jpgFast & Furious 6 dominated the box office in the United Kingdom last weekend with a $13.2 million opening weekend across 462 screens. The film more than doubled the opening weekend gross of The Great Gatsby, which opened in 522 screens and only managed to take in $6.2 million. Star Trek Into Darkness saw a 57% slide from the competition by the new releases, bringing in $5.5 million over the weekend for a $23.7 million cume. Iron Man 3 ended the weekend with a $2.2 million take, bringing its UK cume to $52.2 million. The U.K. is one of the top five foreign markets for Iron Man 3 in its billion dollar run. 

Box Office Results for the United Kingdom. May 17-19, 2013.


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MEXICO: 'Epic' Reaffirms Popularity of Animated Films in Mexico on May 22, 2013

EpicStill.jpgAnimated films are as close to a guarantee as you can get from the Mexican box office. The $3.5 million opening weekend for Epic is the latest proof Mexican audiences' fascination for animated films. Epic was the first film to knock down Iron Man 3 from the top spot at the Mexican box office, relegating the superhero film to second place with a $1.9 million weekend and a $46 million total gross. Star Trek Into Darkness fell 45% in its second week to take third place with a $1.4 million weekend. The Star Trek sequel isn't the big ticket in Mexico than it is in other territories but has been outperforming its predecessor over the same time-period in the market. Star Trek Into Darkness has a $5.3 million cume in Mexico. Nosotros Los Nobles, the domestic class comedy with a joint distribution deal with Warner Brothers, had another successful weekend in release, grossing $1.1 million over its eighth weekend. Nosotros Los Nobles is the highest grossing domestic film of all time in Mexico, currently posting a $28.3 million cume. The Call, The Last Exorcism 2, and Dead Man Down all failed to draw any significant interest in their opening weekends. The films didn't see a major release, but their respective per-screen averages might not be enough to maintain a competitive screen count in the coming weeks. 

Box Office Results for Mexico. May 17-19, 2013.


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FRANCE: 'Gatsby' Takes France Following Cannes Premiere on May 22, 2013

gatsbygrosses.jpgThe Cannes publicity push was worth its weight in gold for The Great Gatsby, opening across 660 screens in France for a $4.9 million gross and a resounding $7,489 per-screen average. It might not be a full-fledged blockbuster premiere for Gatsby, however, especially considering that it only faced notable competition from domestic hit Les Profs in its fourth week (633 screens) and Iron Man 3 in its fourth week (677 screens). Les Profs kept second place with a $2.4 million weekend and a $28.4 million French cume. Iron Man 3 had a $2.1 million weekend in third place, reaching a total of $36.2 million in France.

Box Office Results for France. May 17-19, 2013


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