After breaking records in India, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker-starrer Fast and Furious 7, had a rocking start with a massive $143.6 million collection in its opening weekend at the US ticket windows.
That establishes a new high-water mark for the month of April, blowing past the $95 million debut of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and stands as the highest-grossing kick-off for any film in the Fast and Furious franchise. It also ranks ninth among the top ten openings in history.
Much as The Dark Knight turned into a memorial for Heath Ledger, audiences flocked to see star Paul Walker in one of his final roles. The actor died in a 2013 car crash at the age of 40 and his work on the film was completed using digital technology and a series of stand-ins. “This is a bittersweet installment in the franchise,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “[Walker’s] passing made this movie more intriguing for people who hadn’t seen some of the installments. It raised awareness and its success is a tribute to him.”
Universal Pictures spared no expense in bringing the latest chapter in the fast cars and gravity-defying-stunts series to the big screen, shelling out $190 million on the production. It unspooled in 4,003 North American theaters, earning $14 million on 365 Imax screens and $11.5 million from premium large format screens. Going into the weekend, most analysts estimated that the film would open in the $115 million range.