Source: Universal Pictures


Universal’s international release strategy for Fast & Furious 9 is taking shape as the action tentpole will open in China on May 21 five weeks ahead of the US, with a cluster of other May releases in Russia, Korea, the Middle East, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Vietnam.

Fast & Furious 9 is scheduled to roll out in South Korea on May 19, Russia, the Middle East and UAE on May 20, and Taiwan on May 21. It is set to open in North America on June 25.

Screen understands the strategy is to release the film in two waves of territories based on varying pandemic recovery levels across international markets.

China is the critical territory in the first tranche, given that it generates around 30% of international box office and has generated strong box office in recent months.

Studio executives believe audiences there, as in other markets, are ready to return to cinemas for the right film and the Fast franchise has been successful in those regions, with combined Fast franchise box office for the aforementioned markets delivering more than $1.6bm.

Fast & Furious 8 (released as The Fate Of The Furious in the US) alone grossed $508m in these markets en route to $1.014bn internationally, $388m in China, and $1.24bn worldwide. Fast & Furious 7 grossed $1.168bn internationally, $391m in China, and $1.521m globally.

The second wave of Fast & Furious 9 territories will follow when they enter more robust recovery phases.

The Fast franchise holds numerous records in China and Fast & Furious 8 and Fast & Furious 7 rank as the second and third highest Hollywood debuts in the territory on 2.7bn RMB ($388m) and 2.4bn RMB ($391m), respectively.

Fast & Furious 7, 8 and spin-off Hobbs & Shaw each grossed more in China than they did in the US in pre-Covid times. Five Fast films have opened in China, grossing more than 7bn RMB ($1bn).

Fast & Furious 8 scored the biggest three-day opening weekend for a Hollywood title on 1.3B RMB and ranks as the second biggest three-day debut of all-time behind recent local smash Detective Chinatown 3.

The so-called “Fast Saga” is the sixth highest-grossing global franchise of all time with close to $6bn across nine films including Hobbs & Shaw. It is the fifth highest-grossing series internationally on more than $4bn, with the seventh and eight instalments placing fifth and ninth on the international box office pantheon.

In addition to being Universal’s biggest release ever in China, a “Fast Saga” film holds the record of Universal’s all-time biggest film in 27 markets including the Middle East, and most of South East Asia and Latin America, where it ranks as the second biggest franchise by admissions.

The positioning of the other markets besides China in the first wave is predicated on Covid recovery and the success of the franchise in those regions.

In South Korea, Hobbs & Shaw, FF8 and FF7 rank as Universal’s number four, six and eight films of all time, respectively. FF8 grossed $27m, climbing 14% on FF7.

In Taiwan, FF7 and FF8 delivered the number two and three all-time opening weekends; and FF7, FF8 and Hobbs & Shaw are Universal’s number two, three and six all-time performers, respectively. FF8 grossed $21m.

In Russia, FF7, FF8 and Hobbs & Shaw ranks as Universal’s number four, five and 10 all-time releases, respectively. FF8 finished on $29m.

In the Middle East, Hobbs & Shaw, FF8, and FF7 are the top three Universal films of all-time, and the last two films in the franchise have each grossed more than $12m.

In the UAE, FF8, FF7 and Hobbs & Shaw scored the second, fourth and fifth biggest openings of all-time; FF7, FF8, and Hobbs & Shaw are the top three Universal films of all-time. The last two films have each grossed more than $10m.