Latest episode in Universal’s blockbuster franchise roars into 63 territories over next four days.

Fast And Furious 8

Studio executives have their eyes on $400m this weekend as The Fate Of The Furious aims to deliver the best worldwide opening weekend of the series.

Two years ago Furious 7 set the high-water mark when it arrived on $397.7m worldwide and $250.5m internationally.

This time around the inclusion of China and Russia in the opening weekend salvo could drive a higher international number, even if the overall profile and number of markets will not deliver an exact comparison.

While a $400m-plus debut for the film directed by F. Gary Gray would deliver a huge result, especially in light of the strong dollar, several other releases have achieved this and 2015 smash Star Wars: The Force Awakens remains the biggest global opening in history on $528.9m.

North America is tracking to open in the $100m region, compared to Furious 7’s $147.2m debut, which observers say was inflated due to the curiosity factor of watching the late Paul Walker, who died before production was completed, in his last role in the franchise.

Furious 7 debuted in China and Russia one week after most of the international arena, earning $68.8m on Sunday April 12, 2015, and $15.9m over four days on the same weekend, respectively.

The seventh episode went on to become the biggest release of all time in China on $391m – or $352m in today’s terms given the dramatic drop of the RMB against the dollar.

The Fate Of The Furious is already off to a flying start in China and by Tuesday the first three days had registered a record $22m in pre-sales.

Chinese industry officials hope the Universal tentpole and those early summer releases that follow it will help them forget the first quarter blues, when box office dropped 1.7% against the same period in 2016, rising to 6.5% when online booking fees are taken out of the equation.

The hope among Universal top brass is this latest tentpole can surpass its predecessor’s $1.16bn international and $1.52bn worldwide final tallies.

While overtaking that $1.52bn franchise benchmark is a tough proposition, studio executives must be confident the film will perform extremely well.

They believe cast regulars Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris can deliver the goods alongside more recent additions like Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, and newcomer Charlize Theron.

The Fate Of The Furious kicks off in Australia, France and South Korea on Wednesday, followed on Thursday by Russia, Germany, Italy, Brazil, Spain, and Argentina. Besides China, the heavyweights to look out for on Friday are the UK, and Mexico.

Furious 7 reportedly cost $190m to produce, excluding marketing costs, and ended up being very profitable. Universal has not revealed the budget on the eighth instalment, which became one of the first Hollywood tentpoles to shoot in Cuba since trade restrictions were lifted with the US.

The Fate Of The Furious has three weeks to make hay while the sun shines before Disney unleashes Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2.