The Fast and Furious films certainly live up to their franchise title, but the ever-increasing box offices of recent years points to another important factor: family. The expanding cast infamously lost franchise regular Paul Walker in a tragically ironic car crash in late 2013. Perhaps Walker’s performance in the latest film, Furious 7, provided the box office draw for the millions of fans who wanted to pay their respects along with enjoying their high-octane action. Whatever the cause, James Wan‘s film is now poised to overtake Marvel’s The Avengers for #3 at the all-time worldwide box office.
Granted, the Top 10 of the worldwide box office has seen a relatively high amount of succession over the last decade or so; the Top 50 have all occurred since the year 2000, with the exception of a handful of films that were released earlier than that but also enjoyed more recent theatrical re-releases to pump up their earnings. Do you know what film is sitting at #50 as of this writing? Fast & Furious 6, with almost half the box office tally of its sequel. Why the vast difference in earnings?
The aforementioned untimely death of Walker certainly had an emotional impact on the legions of Fast & Furious fans and his presence in the marketing material was a constant reminder of a life lost too soon. Combine that with the rabid fandoms of both Vin Diesel and the box office gold that is Dwayne Johnson, and it’s no wonder that Furious 7 is doing so well. The addition of international stars Tony Jaa and Jason Statham certainly didn’t hurt the film’s worldwide appeal either. Let’s also not lose sight of just how fun, entertaining, and just plain good the film was! At 82%, it currently has the franchise’s best rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Our own Perri Nemiroff enjoyed it, as evidenced in her SXSW review.
Now just because Furious 7 is creeping up on Avengers for the bronze medal, don’t count Marvel’s own epic franchise out completely. Should the first big-screen superhero team-up drop to #4, it may soon be in good company with Avengers: Age of Ultron, which is quickly gaining on #5’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 after about only one month in theaters. The current standings (via Box Office Mojo) have Avatar way in front at #1 with almost $2.8 billion, followed by Titanic with nearly $2.2 billion. While everyone else is left outside the “James Cameron $2 Billion Box Office Club,” only about $12 million separates The Avengers from Furious 7; Harry Potter‘s final chapter has less than a $20 million lead on Avengers: Age of Ultron. Those deficits can easily be made up with a strong weekend as these two films continue their runs.
So the question isn’t if the top few box office spots will be changing, it’s when. Perhaps a more interesting question isn’t which films are in the top five, but rather how long can they hold onto those coveted spots. If recent trends continue, blockbusters will keep busting box offices as franchises roll on and movie studios develop massive fan followings beholden to their cinematic universes. The real test now is just which one of those films will manage the seemingly improbable feat of toppling #1.