Dominic Toretto and the Family are back for a 10th lap this weekend with Universal’s “Fast X,” the latest installment in a “Fast & Furious” series that over the past two decades has become one of Universal’s biggest box office titans.
But “Fast X” will test how much interest moviegoers worldwide still have in this global moneymaker, as it heads into theaters with the biggest budget of any film in the “F&F” series. Currently, box office projections have “Fast X” earning an opening weekend of $65 million-$73 million in North America and $280 million-$305 million worldwide.
As TheWrap reported last year, the production budget for “Fast X” ballooned to $340 million, well above the reported $200 million-$225 million production spend for its 2021 predecessor “F9.” Some of the reasons for this overrun were outside of Universal’s control, such as supply chain and inflation impacts that made shooting in locations like Rome and Lisbon more expensive as well as additional costs for COVID-19 safety protocols.
But the other factor in this franchise’s rising budget can be seen in the poster for “Fast X” showcasing the series’ ever-growing cast. Along with longtime regulars like Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and Tyrese Gibson, actors who played villains in past movies like Jason Statham, Charlize Theron and John Cena have become full-time cast members. On top of this, more A-list actors like Jason Momoa and Brie Larson are joining this time around, further inflating the cast payroll for “Fast X.”
If “Fast X” was expected to easily clear $1 billion at the global box office like predecessors “Furious 7” and “The Fate of the Furious” did in 2015 and 2017, this wouldn’t be a problem. But domestic tracking has this film opening to roughly the same $70 million opening that “F9” got in May 2021 when the box office was just beginning its pandemic recovery and moviegoers were still slowly returning to theaters.
“F9” ended up grossing $173 million domestically and $726 million worldwide. In order to turn a profit from theatrical revenue alone, “Fast X” is going to have to reach at least $800 million — possibly $850 million — for success.
At this point, it’s difficult to say whether “Fast & Furious” has enough global interest to hit that mark. The franchise still has a dependable fan base and a solid reputation for over-the-top, ludicrous (Ludacris?) action escapism that should allow it to do well through Memorial Day weekend. But sustaining that buzz against June titles like “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” and “The Flash” is another matter entirely.
So it may come down to the film’s overseas performance. International ticket sales may well determine whether “Fast X” turns a theatrical profit or has to resort to post-theatrical revenue streams to get out of the red. Even at the height of its popularity, “Fast & Furious” has been a franchise that has been more of an international moneymaker as both “Furious 7” and “Fate of the Furious” grossed over $1 billion even without North America factored in.
But with Chinese moviegoers no longer interested in most Hollywood offerings, those overseas grosses may be diminished. Insiders at Universal say the studio is expecting “Fast X” to gross less than the $216 million that “F9” got, though there’s still hope that the drop will not be as steep considering that “F&F” was one of the more popular Hollywood titles in China.
That will mean that the rest of the international theatrical market, which has recovered greatly since the release of “F9,” may have to carry the slack. While “F9” got a month-long release rollout worldwide, “Fast X” will be released in 81 markets worldwide this weekend. That means we will know right away how the film is performing compared to past “F&F” films, and whether this franchise still has the ability to be a box office hit no matter the budget.