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'Furious 7' speeds to huge $15.8 million in Thursday night opening

#Furious7 off to a strong start with $15.8 million on opening night

Universal Pictures' "Furious 7," the latest in the "Fast and the Furious" film series, grossed a massive $15.8 million in U.S. ticket sales Thursday night. 

That marks a strong start for the high-octane movie's opening weekend, which analysts have predicted will earn $115 million from the U.S. and Canada through Sunday.

"Furious 7" debuted in 3,069 theaters, starting with showings at 7 p.m. The $15.8-million figure is more than double the pre-show take of the previous installment, "Fast & Furious 6," which scored $6.5 million.

However, it's not a directly comparable result, because the sixth movie opened at 2,409 locations with showings that began at 10 p.m.

If it comes anywhere near expectations, "Furious 7" will be the biggest domestic opening of the year so far, surpassing both "American Sniper's" January wide debut and "Fifty Shades of Grey's" February launch. 

The release date for the latest film, which cost $190 million to make, was moved from summer 2014 after the franchise's star Paul Walker died in a car crash midway through production. 

Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage: @rfaughnder

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