‘Furious 7′ revs up record-breaking weekend

April 05 23:08 2015

Furious 7 didn’t just race to the top of the box office — it lapped the competition. The latest installment in the Fast and Furious franchise sped away with a record-breaking $143.6 million for the Easter weekend, according to studio estimates from box-office tracking firm Rentrak.635637440101915632-AP-BOX-OFFICE-72086500

The explosive action blockbuster zooms past the debut of 2013′s Fast and Furious 6 ($97.4 million, then a franchise best) and becomes the ninth-biggest U.S. opening of all time (eclipsed only by Spider-Man 3′s $151.1 million, according to Box Office Mojo). It’s also the biggest April opening ever (beating Captain America: Winter Soldier’s $95 million last year) and the largest debut of 2015 so far (easily topping Fifty Shades of Grey’s $93 million for the four-day Valentine’s Day/Presidents’ Day weekend).

“To say it obliterated expectations is an understatement,” says Paul Dergarabedian, box office analyst for Rentrak. With its combination of popcorn entertainment and tribute to late, longtime franchise star Paul Walker, “it just took off and had a life of its own, and filled theaters in a very summer-style way.” With very little direct competition for male audiences until Avengers: Age of Ultron opens May 1, “it should put a ton of money in the box office tank for the next month.” Furious 7 didn’t spin out with critics, either: It got motors running with a franchise-best 82% approval rating on survey site RottenTomatoes.com, as well as a 90% positive response from audiences.

Coming in a distant second for the weekend is animated alien adventure Home, featuring the voices of Jim Parsons, Rihanna and Steve Martin. Last week’s family-friendly No. 1 movie didn’t come back to Earth in its second outing, beaming up $27.4 million and bringing its tally to $95.6 million. Meanwhile, Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart’s R-rated prison comedy Get Hard locked up an additional $12.9 million for third place and $57 million to date. In fourth, Disney’s live-action Cinderella continued to be the belle of the ball, fitting another $10.3 million into its glass slipper ($167.3 million total). Rounding out the top five is Insurgent, the second movie of the Divergent series. The dystopian young-adult film starring Shailene Woodley hoarded another $10 million in its third weekend, crossing the $100 million threshold ($103.4 million total).