Fuel-injecting some mega-muscle into the international box office landscape, Universal’s F9 has been set for a May 21 release date in China, a full five weeks before it is due to speed out domestically on June 25. But China won’t be the only overseas market to release early, as I hear several other key hubs are also going throughout the month of May including Korea (which will kick things off on May 19), Russia, the Middle East, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Vietnam.
The early offshore release dates reflect the recovery of — and confidence in — overseas markets, notably in Asia, where it’s been demonstrated that audiences are eager to return to cinemas when there is significant product available. And F9 certainly fits the event-level bill. In total, the Fast Saga across nine films has grossed nearly $6B worldwide and is the No. 6 global franchise ever (and the No. 2 biggest ‘original’ franchise behind only Star Wars). Internationally, it is the No. 5 franchise of all time with over $4B. Recent installments, Furious 7 and The Fate Of The Furious are the Nos. 5 and 9 highest grossing films internationally, ever.
China has, over the past several years, become the top overseas market for the franchise with more than $1B across five films including spinoff Hobbs & Shaw.
The China date gives the latest Justin Lin-helmed Fast entry plenty of roadway ahead of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party on July 1 which will be marked by local celebrations and very likely a blackout on imports. The China date was posted on Uni’s Weibo account today.
The Fast Saga boasts multiple records in China. In 2015, Furious 7 claimed the title of the then-highest-grossing film ever in the market with RMB 2.4B. It is currently the No. 3 Hollywood title of all time in China. In 2017, The Fate Of The Furious grossed RMB 2.7B and is the No. 2 Hollywood film there ever. The latter entry also holds the record as the biggest 3-day opening weekend for an MPA title in the Middle Kingdom with RMB 1.3B, and retains the No. 2 highest 3-day debut weekend ever, only recently being overtaken by local hit Detective Chinatown 3.
Outside of China, the markets cited above that are due to release ahead of domestic have grossed over $1.6B combined for the Fast Saga. This is truly a global franchise which mixes action thrills with family elements. In Latin America, the Fast Saga is the 2nd biggest franchise ever in terms of admissions.
We understand that dates in some Latin American markets as well as in Europe (with many of those majors currently closed) will come as the Covid situation improves. Coming out pre-domestic in the Asian and Middle East markets, allows Uni to engage audiences where recent moviegoing has been robust, and then to hit other key areas on a rolling basis.
The full first wave of markets will start with Korea on May 19, followed by Russia and the Middle East/UAE on May 20 and Taiwan in step with China on May 21.
Earlier this week, Uni dropped a new trailer for F9, which had seen a handful of pandemic-induced date changes with the studio most recently moving it off of a domestic May 28 date to June 25.
The story picks up after the events of The Fate Of The Furious, as Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto is leading a quiet life off the grid with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and his son, little Brian, but they know that danger always lurks just over their peaceful horizon. This time, that threat will force Dom to confront the sins of his past if he’s going to save those he loves most. His crew joins together to stop a world-shattering plot led by the most skilled assassin and high-performance driver they’ve ever encountered: a man who also happens to be Dom’s forsaken brother, Jakob (John Cena).
The film also stars returning cast members Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Jordana Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel and Sung Kang, with Helen Mirren and Charlize Theron. F9 also features Grammy-winning superstar Cardi B as new franchise character Leysa, a woman with a connection to Dom’s past, and a cameo by Reggaeton sensation Ozuna.
F9 is produced by Neal H Moritz, Vin Diesel, Jeff Kirschenbaum, Joe Roth, Justin Lin, Clayton Townsend and Samantha Vincent.