Fast And Furious 7 makes best start in series' history

Fast And Furious 7 makes best start in series' history
Screengrab from the film 'Fast and Furious 7'

LOS ANGELES - Fast And Furious 7, also called Furious 7 in the United States, raced to the top of the domestic box office, picking up a massive US$143.6 million (S$194 million) in its opening weekend.

Foreign numbers were steroidal. Internationally, the film rolled out across screens in 63 territories, earning US$240.4 million.

The North American figures have established a new high-water-mark for this month, blowing past the US$95 million debut of last year's Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and stand as the highest-grossing kick-off for any film in the Fast And Furious franchise. It also ranks ninth among the top 10 openings in history.

Much as The Dark Knight turned into a memorial for Heath Ledger, audiences flocked to see star Paul Walker in one of his final roles. The actor died in a 2013 car crash at the age of 40, and his work on the film was completed using digital technology and a series of stand-ins.

"This is a bittersweet instalment in the franchise," said Phil Contrino, vice-president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. "(Walker's) passing made this movie more intriguing for people who hadn't seen some of the instalments. It raised awareness and its success is a tribute to him."

Universal Pictures spared no expense in bringing the latest chapter in the fast cars and gravity-defying-stunts series to the big screen, shelling out US$190 million on the production.

With an A CinemaScore and strong reviews, Furious 7 could be one of the few modern blockbusters that hangs on for more than a few weeks.

This month is lean on blockbuster fare, and Furious 7 will not get serious competition until Avengers: Age Of Ultron debuts on April 23 in Singapore and May 1 in the US.

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