With $2.1 million on its third Friday, F9 has now earned $198 million in China alone. The Vin Diesel/John Cena action sequel will zoom past $200 million sometime today and quite possibly both the $199 million Chinese cume of Spider-Man: Far from Home and the $201 million cume of Hobbs & Shaw. Once that happens, today or exceedingly early tomorrow, it’ll be the second-biggest Hollywood flick in China (behind Avengers: Endgame’s $629 million cume) in all of 2019, 2020 and (thus far) 2021. It’ll be bigger than any non-DC/Marvel superhero flick (namely Avengers 3, Venom, Aquaman and Avengers 4) from Hollywood to play in China in since Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ($267 million) in summer 2018.
Save for maybe an Avengers movie or (ha ha?) James Cameron’s Avatar 2, there exists no Hollywood movie save for Fast & Furious 9 that could find itself on the defensive despite heading for a $215 million Chinese total. The grosses for the last three official Fast Saga movies ($392 million in 2015, $393 million in 2017 and $201 million in 2019) made up 26% of Furious 7’s $1.515 billion cume, 31% of Fate of the Furious’ $1.236 billion total and 26% of Hobbs & Shaw’s $760 million finish. There was hope, before Covid changed the game, that F9 might approximate its predecessor’s Chinese total and easily become the year’s biggest worldwide grosser.
1.5 years later, Universal had no such grandiose expectations, but the less certain overseas and domestic results put more pressure on China’s eventual performance. One might argue that, with Hollywood product mostly dropping dead in China for all of 2020, and with ever-more Chinese biggies supplanting the need for conventional cinematic blockbusters, a performance closer to Transformers: The Last Knight ($228 million in 2017) than Transformers: Age of Extinction ($300 million in 2014) was in the realm of “good enough.” Considering that the holds outside of China are closer to Fate of the Furious than Batman v Superman, the only “result” may be a comparatively smaller percentage of the overall global cume represented by China.
If Furious 7’s $353 million domestic cume was “lightning in a bottle” related to a generational franchise coronation and Paul Walker’s death, then applying Fate’s $226 million domestic gross to Furious 7 still gets you to $1.388 billion with 28% represented by China. 28% divided by $215 million still gets you to $768 million, essentially tied with the $788 million cume of Fast & Furious 6 in 2013. A 26.5% cut (on par with Hobbs & Shaw) gets F9 past $800 million. That’s a lot of fun with math until the next batch of big openings in the latter half of June. For now, F9 has earned around $250 million worldwide with plenty left in the can.