'Fast and Furious 9' is soaring at the box office in China and easing fears about the future of Hollywood blockbusters in the crucial market

'Fast and Furious 9' is soaring at the box office in China and easing fears about the future of Hollywood blockbusters in the crucial market
"F9"Universal
  • "Fast and Furious 9" earned $135 million at the China box office over the weekend.
  • It suggests there's hope for Hollywood movies in the region after local films dominated during the pandemic.
  • China's box office has dethroned the US as the biggest in the world.

The "Fast and Furious" franchise has long been an international hit. And the latest film in the series is off to a strong start, even at a Chinese box office recovering from the pandemic.

"Fast and Furious 9," or simply "F9," earned $162 million internationally over the weekend, with $135 million of that coming from China. It's the first Hollywood movie since 2019's "Avengers: Endgame" to crack $100 million in its opening weekend in China. The movie, which was delayed more than a year, doesn't open in the US until June 25. The last two entries in the main series, "Furious 7" and "The Fate of the Furious," both grossed more than $1 billion globally and around $390 in China.
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"F9's" early success offers fresh relief that big-budget Hollywood tentpoles can still perform well in a region that Hollywood has relied heavily on to boost global box-office numbers in recent years, but where local productions largely dominated during the pandemic.

The pandemic has greatly accelerated China's box-office dominance over the US, which could also have major ramifications.

China has dethroned the US

The Chinese theater industry experienced an incredible rebound after the region's thousands of theaters shut down for months during the pandemic. Local movies did gangbuster business while Hollywood releases like "Soul" and "Wonder Woman 1984" underwhelmed.
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Local movies accounted for 85% of China's box office in 2020, up from 60% in 2018, according to the analytics company Comscore. The top 10 grossing movies at the China box office from April 1, 2020 to March 29, 2021 were all locally produced.

Gitesh Pandya, the editor of BoxOfficeGuru.com, noted in April that Hollywood delayed many of its biggest movies, and that the right movie could still sell. "There's certainly plenty of hope in Hollywood that China will still be a crucial market," Pandya told Insider at the time.
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Since then, "Godzilla vs. Kong" (which has made $183 million there) and now "Fast and Furious 9" have eased some concerns.

But while the US market is showing some signs of life ("Godzilla vs. Kong" is nearing $100 million domestically), China has dethroned the US as the biggest theatrical market in the world.

The research firm Ampere Analysis had projected China to overtake the US by 2022 before the pandemic. It now expects China to remain at the top indefinitely as the US market slowly springs back.
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Ampere Analysis research director Richard Cooper said that China's theatrical market will continue to expand and ticket sales will rise, along with Chinese revenue for US movies, while the US theatrical market will shrink.

"The previously stable US market will reduce in size following the pandemic," Cooper said. "This is largely due to a forecast downturn in film financing and the fact that some US cinemas will shutter permanently."

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