Fate of the Furious revved its engines this weekend, but even though it won the box office race, are fans and critics feeling like the series is running out of gas? Try not to laugh at my uneducated attempts to make car puns, and let’s take a look under the hood.
Fate of the Furious, the eighth film in the franchise that started as being about illegal street racing and turned into, somehow, one of the most successful action franchises of all time, left every other movie in the dust at the box office this weekend with a record-breaking worldwide opening gross of $532 million making it the highest worldwide first-weekend opening of all time, surpassing even Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Granted, much of this has to do with the fact that it was released everywhere on the exact same day, but even still, this is impressive. On top of that, it’s now the highest grossing film ever to be directed by an African-American filmmaker, F. Gary Gray (who directed last year’s excellent Straight Outta Compton).
Not to mention, it blew away its $350 million production budget, and it’s just getting started. I wouldn’t be surprised if this took the top spot again this weekend, but I guess that’s kind of up in the air since reviews of the film were mixed which might put a damper on repeat drives. Some fans and critics were thrilled that we got more of the same over-the-top action, zippy one-liners, and, of course, the diverse cast of characters and cars. However, some moviegoers were let down after the massive success that was the seventh film, but this disappointment is kind of like going to a theme park and not being as thrilled by the new coaster when the most recent new coaster before that was so great; it’s all just fun, so why complain?
Shifting gears to this weekend, we’ve got a slew of newcomers hitting theaters. First up is DisneyNature’s new documentary Born in China, about pandas! Look at them! They’re so cute! This looks like another knockout from the DisneyNature documentary series, and it’s narrated by John Krasinski, so it’s probably delightful. And it comes out a day before Earth Day! It’s all just so positive!
Next is Free Fire, an action-comedy distributed by the near-flawless A24 Pictures. It’s a one-location slow-burn with an excellent cast, and early reviews have been glowing, so if this little gem is coming near you, definitely catch it and settle in for a wild ride.
Phoenix Forgotten is our next newcomer, which is a found footage horror film that looks like Blair Witch in the desert with aliens. Honestly, the biggest draw is that it’s produced by Ridley Scott, and the true events of the Phoenix Lights are intriguing, but to be blunt, this looks like a flat horror film that doesn’t quite capitalize on its interesting source material, meaning this Phoenix probably going to be forgotten pretty quickly.
And speaking of forgetful films, Unforgettable comes to theaters this weekend. It’s a thriller about an ex-wife tormenting her ex-husband and his new wife. And that’s it. Now, if this was rated PG-13, it would probably do alright with high school kids looking for something to watch if they don’t want to see Fate of the Furious again, but I’m predicting the R-rating is going to deeply cut into its audience base. This kind of story is nothing new, so Unforgettable is probably going to be anything but unforgettable.
The Promise is our final newcomer of the weekend, which is a historical drama about the last years of the Ottoman Empire, during the Armenian genocide. Reviews of the film have been underwhelming, but it has Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale, so perhaps an American audience response will be a little warmer due to the star power!