After a prolonged slump to begin 2015, the box office got a desperately-needed shot in the arm when Universal released Furious 7 on April 3. Taking advantage of a weak crop of "competitors," the action sequel broke the month's opening weekend record by making an impressive $147.1 million during its first three days. Not too long after that, the film became the highest-grossing installment in the series - after just 10 days of release.
It was long expected Furious 7 would be one of the year's top earners when 2015 was in the history books, but few could have predicted that it would become one of the biggest movies of all-time. Indeed, that's exactly what's happening as Furious 7's commercial hot streak has continued. After only 17 days in theaters, the film has crossed the $1 billion milestone, becoming just the 20th film in Hollywood history to do so.
That accomplishment gets even more noteworthy when you throw in the fact that Furious 7 became a member of the $1 billion club faster than anyone else. The previous record was 19 days in a three-way tie between The Avengers, Avatar, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2. When you factor in that those three projects all benefited from 3D surcharges (when Furious 7 did not), it makes this unprecedented run all the more extraordinary.
In a press release, Universal announced that Furious 7 is the first film of theirs to cross $1 billion in its initial theatrical release. Jurassic Park was technically the first product from the studio to gross that much, but that's when you also include the amount of money it grossed during its 2013 3D release ($45.3 million in the States). When it's all said and done, Furious 7 should be the highest-grossing film Universal has ever distributed (it already is in 26 territories), making it easy to see why their executives are interested in continuing the series with Fast & Furious 8 down the line.
As we've said before, there are numerous reasons why the film is having this much success at the box office. Chief among them is the fact that this marks the final career performance of Paul Walker, who lost his life while the movie was still in production. Everyone ranging from die-hard fans to casual moviegoers were interested to see how the "tribute" portion of the film was handled, making the "one last ride" of Furious 7 more of an event than other installments.
The other way Furious 7 has made so much in so little time is because it was released during a vacant time at the marketplace. Universal arguably was smart to avoid the glut of summer blockbusters this year by putting their film out in the beginning of spring. It was a strategy Marvel Studios employed last year when Captain America: The Winter Soldier enjoyed a similar run, dominating the box office for a solid month until similar films started hitting the multiplex. Audiences were getting desperate for some popcorn entertainment, and Furious 7 delivered it in spades.
The only real drama left is how far up the all-time charts Furious 7 can go. It's currently at 20th and more than likely will clear some of the smash hits ahead of it (including, among others, The Dark Knight) by the time it ends its theatrical run. But any other records it breaks is gravy at this point as far as Universal's concerned. Back in 2001, they took a chance at a niche film about underground street racing culture and ended up turning it into one of the most profitable tentpoles in the industry. No matter how you feel about these movies, that's quite an accomplishment.
Furious 7 is now playing in theaters.
Source: Universal Pictures