Now comes along Universal’s Hobbs & Shaw, the first spinoff in the blockbuster Fast & Furious franchise. The movie headlines series stars Dwayne Johnson — who famously had a parting of the ways with Vin Diesel on the set of The Fate of the Furious — and Jason Statham, alongside newcomers Vanessa Kirby and Idris Elba, who plays the bad guy.
Hobbs & Shaw opened to a promising $181 million at the global box office over the Aug. 2-4 weekend and faces little competition for weeks to come. But it will ultimately need to earn north of $700 million to be considered a success, considering its production budget of at least $200 million before marketing. One hitch: Hobbs & Shaw came in on the modest end of expectations in North America, meaning it will need even more gas overseas. The pic has yet to open in several major markets, including China, where Fate of the Furious earned nearly $400 million in 2017.
On social media, Johnson has thanked his fans and co-stars for “expanding” the Fast & Furious universe. That’s a sentiment shared by Universal, where the franchise proper will presumably wind down with Fast & Furious 9 (May 22, 2020) and Fast & Furious 10 (April 2, 2021).
The spinoff, directed by David Leitch of Deadpool 2, gives the studio new characters to work with. In addition to the those played by Elba and Kirby, there are two high-profile cameos by Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Hart. All four actors could potentially join Johnson and Statham in any future Hobbs & Shawinstallments.
“The result for Hobbs & Shaw shows that with the right characters, a huge brand like Fast & Furious can begin the universe-building process that has become de rigueur in today’s movie business,” says Paul Dergarabedian of Comscore. “Given the inherent global appeal and August release date, the film should enjoy long-term playability as the final big-budget tentpole of the summer.”
Hobbs & Shaw is a (needed) win for Johnson, and marks his biggest box office debut in North America outside of the last four Fast & Furious installments. It’s also the biggest domestic opening of the summer outside of Disney movies and superhero pics, topping John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum ($56.8 million).
Excluding Hobbs & Shaw, the eight Fast & Furious movies have reaped almost $5 billion in ticket sales at the global box office, making it Universal’s biggest franchise. Furious 7 ranks No. 1 with $1.5 billion, followed by the most recent film, Fate of the Furious ($1.2 billion), not adjusted for inflation.
Not everyone is completely won over by Hobbs & Shaw so far.
“Hobbs & Shaw scored a solid debut. However, it certainly didn’t earn its Fast & Furious stripes. The brand itself is titanium, especially overseas, and this spinoff certainly didn’t hurt momentum in any way,” says box office analyst Jeff Bock of Exhibitor Relations.
“Spinoffs themselves are usually an over-eager bunch at the box office — most of them veering off in a direction dictated by a studio’s box office hunger rather than true yearning from audiences,” he continues. “I would [rather] they’d stick with traditional Fast & Furious flicks from here on out, unless, of course, it explodes overseas.”