Earning a billion dollars at the box-office globally is a massive accomplishment. Before Friday, only 19 Hollywood movies had managed this feat. On Friday, the list grew to 20. Universal Pictures announced that Furious 7, the seventh instalment of the Fast & Furious franchise, has grossed more than $1 billion in worldwide box-office collections, which is the first for a movie of this franchise. Furious 7 is also the second movie under the Universal banner to cross this collection mark after Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, but the latter crossed $1 billion only after a 3D re-release many years after the original had been released.
The success of Furious 7 isn’t surprising, though not all could have seen it scale up to a whole new level in this manner. The audience was already looking forward to this flick as soon as the post-credits scene of Fast & Furious 6, which introduced Jason Statham, rolled down. That was the reason why Universal was aggressively pushing for a 2014 release for Furious 7, just one year after the sixth movie. Due to unfortunate reasons, the movie got pushed back to 2015. And that brings us to the second reason behind the buzz around Furious 7. It is the final movie of Paul Walker who died in an unfortunate accident in November 2013, leaving his fans worldwide in shock. Paul Walker has always been an integral part of the Fast & Furious franchise, the one whose character’s personal and professional lives go through many changes during the course of the movie series, more than that of any other character. Thus Furious 7 had a very strong emotional connect with the audience, which director James Wan fully respected by keeping Paul Walker’s character till the end and giving him a tearful and fitting farewell.
Take nothing away though from the movie’s excitement value too. It has taken the stunts to a greater level, as insane jumps and falls blew away the mind of the audience, the adrenaline rush hardly slowing down, the thrill never ebbing. Introduction of new actors like Jason Statham and Kurt Russell gave it a fresher feel, making it standout in the series despite the presence of six predecessors.
But even if an optimist had expected Furious 7 to earn more than a billion dollars worldwide, no one could have seen it coming so soon. As quick as Toretto’s cars! In only 17 days! That is a new record in Hollywood, for the fewest days taken to reach $1 billion collection. The breakup of the movie’s collections so far is – $735.2 million overseas in 17 days and an estimated $273.7 million in North America in 15 days. The pace of collections for Furious 7 beats the previous record of 19 days taken by each of the following movies, The Avengers, Avatar and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 to earn $1 billion worldwide.
It would be unfair to compare a movie’s pace of box-office collections with another and rank them because each movie may not open in the same number of territories to begin with. It is true that nowadays films with global appeal open in all the main regions worldwide around the same period as the USA release, but this is not a rule of law. So say a big budget movie chooses to release in China a few months after the USA release, for any reason like to avoid competition from some local film, then its revenue buildup would be slower but could still be impressive by the time its theatrical run ends. Disney’s Frozen is a good example to give in this context; this film reached the $1 billion mark on its 101st day of release, since its worldwide release was very staggered and it reached some important markets like China and Japan much later.
But even if we ignore the record-making feat of Furious 7, amassing $1 billion in worldwide collections itself is applause-worthy, and to do it in 17 days only shows that the movie still has a lot of weeks more left in the theatres. Furious 7 should be topping $1.2 billion – a feat managed only by 6 movies so far – and if it manages $1.3 billion, then it would be in the top five films in the all-time list! These rankings will however go through a series of changes this year, for it is the year of big franchises after all, and Furious 7 is just the beginning. The soon-to-release Avengers: Age of Ultron will be another $1 billion-plus movie, eyeing its own set of records to make, and we will have another strong contender before the year ends in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. But whatever be the rank of Furious 7 in the all-time earnings table by year-end, it has already made its mark in the history of Hollywood. And who can say that it did not deserve to do so!?