Box Office Futures: Furious 7 Predictions

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In 2006, Justin Lin took control of the wheel of the Fast and Furious franchise with the underwhelming third installment Tokyo Drift. Fans and critics alike declared the series dead in the water despite the surprise cameo from Vin Diesel at the tail end of the film. Three years later, in 2009, Justin Lin returned to the driver seat to debut the fourth installment of the franchise – a surprise prequel featuring the return of Dominic Torreto, Brian O’Conner and their car loving family.

This reunion helped drive the franchise from the ashes of its former box office glory into the astronomical heights historically reserved for superheroes and animated creatures. To say that the Fast and Furious franchise isn’t one of the most extraordinary comebacks in the history of cinema would be a colossal understatement. A lot of people are looking at Furious 7 as a contender for the $1 billion club, and I’m one of them. But, I have my doubts. Let’s discuss.

Despite what you might (or might not) know, the series has been incredibly profitable since the original was released back in 2001 – a majority of it’s $201 million coming from the domestic front. Yet, the franchise has relied heavily on the back of international numbers for most of its run. 2003’s 2 Fast 2 Furious was the last time that the domestic mark made up a majority of the franchise’s profits. In fact, it is more than likely Tokyo Drift’s near $96 million that saved the franchises from Universal Picture’s coveted straight-to-DVD sequels that ultimately doomed The American Pie films for nearly a decade. Although, it was probably 2 Fast 2 Furious’ 43% jump in profits (from $62 million to $109 million) from the original that created that justified the location, and thus story, of the sequel. At least that sequel wasn’t for nothing, if Furious 7 is as good as its debut trailer makes it appear to be. But, I digress.


In 2009, the return of the original cast overshadowed a yawn inducing plot to propel the franchise into new heights with over $363 million – more than doubling Tokyo Drift’s mild $158 million. Similar growth was showcased in the next sequel as Fast Five went on to gross $626 million in the worldwide box office. However, such a meteoric rise couldn’t be contained for long, and the sixth entry stabilized with an impressive $788 million. While these numbers seem remarkable, they represent only a 20% increase in box office revenue from the fifth to sixth installment, far less than the 56% increase from the third to fourth installment or the 42% increase seen between the fourth and fifth.

It would appear that the Fast and Furious franchise has simply run out of room to climb. A similar drop in profit growth for Furious 7 would only leave the film with nearly $858 million in the worldwide box office. Realistically, that isn’t bad, and it could be exactly what Universal is expecting. Many series don’t enjoy such a lucrative growth over the course of a decade, as they normally tire out in less than half that time. But we are dealing with a very unique monster in this current realm of blockbuster filmmaking.

It might be hurtful to assume, or even hope, that a tragedy might help propel a film to astronomical success either critically or financially, but it has been the unfortunate truth of many films over the last several decades. The last high profile example being 2008’s The Dark Knight where Heath Ledger’s tragic death helped drive the film to a jaw dropping $1 billion worldwide – over $534 million coming from North America alone. Of course, The Dark Knight was already a largely anticipated sequel from a better-than-expected film. It impossible to guess just has important Ledger’s death was to the overall box office gross of the movie, but it’s easily one of the best explanations for the movie’s overwhelming success. Especially when comparing it to Batman Begins’ humble $374 million worldwide in 2005. Now, here we are, less than a decade later, with the tragic death of Paul Walker looming over the anticipation and overall success of his final film.

Again, it would be impossible to understand just how much Paul Walker’s death will help or hurt the success of Furious 7. It is to be assumed that many people outside of the series long standing fan base will be interested in seeing how Chris Morgan and newcomer James Wan will deal with Walker’s character given the circumstances of the actors death. 

The question is whether or not that interest will be enough to ensure a $1 billion run at the worldwide box office. As much as I’d to believe that the Fast and Furious franchise could join the billion-dollar club, I don’t believe that this situation will guide the franchise past it. I’m not insinuating that Furious 7 won’t make a more money then its immediate predecessor. I just don’t believe that the impact of Walker’s death still be driving people to the theaters nearly a year and a half after the accident. We tend to forget things fairly quickly as a nation, and Walker has already had two underperforming films grace the silver screen since his death. I’m going to assume that the general public will have lost interest by April of 2015.

For my long term prediction of Furious 7:

  • Domestic: $264,768,000 (28%)
  • International: $680,832,000 (72%)
  • Worldwide: $945,600,000 (100%)

Due to the circumstances, I’m estimating a 20% increase across the board from Fast and Furious 6’s success rate. While this probably won’t be enough to reach the film past the $1 billion point, I’m sure that Universal will see this number as a means to create their multiple part finally they have been discussing lately. Lets just hope that they quality of the next film is on par with the last two films of the series. If not, we could see one of the most interesting franchises of the last decade fall back into a pit of spin-offs and unrelated sequels.

Until the film actually comes out, take your time to watch the touching tribute released by Universal shortly after Paul Walker's death.

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