‘Furious 7’ races to top of Korea, U.S. box offices

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‘Furious 7’ races to top of Korea, U.S. box offices

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This photo provided by Universal Pictures shows Vin Diesel as Dom Toretto in a scene from “Furious 7.” [AP/NEWSIS]

The high-octane “Furious 7’’ peeled out of the gates in its opening weekend both in Korea and the United States, debuting in the No. 1 spot on both countries’ box offices during the weekend.

In Korea, the stunt-heavy blockbuster picked up 908,316 admissions, or 7.5 billion won ($5 million), from 982 screens nationwide, while in the United States it raked in $143.6 million from 4,004 locations, easily topping the domestic box office, according to Rentrak estimates on Sunday.

The expectation-shattering sum in the U.S. is a studio and franchise best for the homegrown car-obsessed series, which has continued to rise over the past few films.

“Furious 7,’’ now the ninth-biggest opening of all time, also unseats previous April record-holder “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,’’ which opened to $95 million on the same weekend last year.

While the “Fast and Furious’’ movies have grown in popularity over the past three films, the mega-opening for “Furious 7’’ was also at least partially tied to audience interest in star Paul Walker, who died in a car crash in November 2013 before the film was completed.

Production on “Furious 7’’ was halted while the filmmakers and Universal decided whether or not to proceed with the movie.

The team ultimately decided to delay the release from its originally scheduled July 2014 date.

“It probably created some curiosity, but, at the same time, [the film] fits in so well with the overall continuing saga of the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise,’’ Nick Carpou, Universal’s president of domestic distribution, said of Walker.

“It’s a motivator, but it’s not by any means the prime motivator to see the movie.’’

There is also a sense that massive openings like “Furious 7’’ point to the creeping expansion of summer blockbuster season, which seems to be starting earlier and earlier as studios try to stake their claim on prime dates.

But for Carpou, in a 52-week-a-year release strategy, the demarcation of a summer blockbuster is almost irrelevant when it comes to getting audiences to turn out in droves for a film.

“It’s that corny old adage that if you build it, they will come,’’ he said, adding that the impressive February debut of “Fifty Shades of Grey’’ helps prove his point.

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box office firm Rentrak, thinks that this is a liberating trend for studios who once clamored for the first weekend in May release date.

“Studios are finding tremendous value in putting their movies in non-traditional corridors,’’ he said.

Holdovers populated the rest of the top spots in the United States with DreamWorks Animation’s “Home’’ earning $27.4 million to take a distant second place.

“Get Hard’’ brought in an estimated $12.9 million, while “Cinderella’’ and “The Divergent Series: Insurgent’’ rounded out the top five with $10.3 million and $10 million, respectively.

But it’s all about “Furious 7’’ for the next few weeks. The film has the roads to itself until Disney and Marvel’s “The Avengers: Age of Ultron’’ hits theaters on May 1.

“This could be the first in the franchise to flirt with the billion dollar mark,’’ Dergarabedian said.

In Korea, local comedy flick “Twenty,” directed by Lee Byoung-heon, dropped a notch to second place, selling 644,492 tickets to make its two-week total 2.2 million.

Italian animation “Pet Pals in Windland” debuted in eighth, and documentary feature “Wonders,” which was previously called “Foulball,” opened in 10th place.

BY JIN EUN-SOO, AP [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]



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