Box Office: ‘F9’ Racing Toward Pandemic-Era Record Debut After Killer Preview Results

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F9” is racing toward a pandemic era box office record after nabbing a mighty (at least for plague times) $7.1 million in Thursday previews.

The homage to living life “a quarter-mile at a time,” in the words of one Dominic Toretto, is providing a welcome dose of adrenaline to a cinema business that’s been stalled out for months, as audiences slowly creep back to multiplexes and vaccination rates continue to rise. It is expected to gross between $60 million to $70 million in North America this weekend, which would easily top the $48.3 million that “A Quiet Place Part II” brought in over its first weekend in theaters. That was the high-water mark for domestic debuts in the COVID era.

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It’s worth noting that the gross is somewhat diminished from its predecessors, partly because the situation in Canada lags behind the U.S. and partly because audiences haven’t returned to pre-coronavirus levels. The previous film in the series, 2017’s “The Fate of the Furious,” grossed $98.8 million in its first weekend, while 2015’s “Furious 7” netted $147.2 million. The seventh installment earned $15.8 million in previews, while part 8 nabbed $10.4 million in previews. “F9’s” opening is in line with the $60 million opening of the 2019 Fast and Furious spinoff “Hobbs & Shaw,” which earned $5.8 million in previews and opened to $60 million.

“F9” brings back Vin Diesel as Toretto, as well as fellow crew members Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jordana Brewster and Sung Kang. Jon Cena plays the villain, while Helen Mirren chews scenery and shows she can do a lot more than parallel park as Deckard and Owen Shaw’s mom, a role she has previously played in other “Fast” films. Justin Lin, who helmed “Fast & Furious 6,” slid back into the directing chair on this one.

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