COMPANY TOWN

'Furious 7' to stay on top of box office race

#boxoffice forecast: 'Furious 7' will probably add $65 million to $70 million in sophomore weekend

Fueled by a robust opening week at the box office, "Furious 7" is expected to accelerate past newcomer "The Longest Ride" this weekend.

The action film will probably drop about 50% to 60% in ticket sales from last weekend's strong opening, according to people familiar with prerelease audience surveys. That means the film could add about $65 million to $70 million in its sophomore weekend. Meanwhile, Nicholas Sparks' book adaptation "The Longest Ride" will probably rope in about $15 million.

Directed by franchise newcomer James Wan, "Furious 7" film takes the ensemble (including Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson and Michelle Rodriguez) around the globe from London to Los Angeles, Tokyo, the Dominican Republic and Abu Dhabi and back to Los Angeles. Dominic Toretto (Diesel) and the crew go after Deckard Shaw (Statham) for targeting and killing crew members as revenge for the death of his brother, Owen Shaw.

The latest film in the Universal Pictures franchise cost a whopping $190 million to make. After the unexpected death of Walker, the franchise's star, midway through production, the studio shifted the film's release date from summer 2014. Caleb Walker and Cody Walker, Paul's brothers, were brought in as stand-ins. Computer effects were also used for facial replacement to complete Walker's remaining scenes.

Moviegoers reacted positively to the film, giving it an A grade from audience polling firm CinemaScore. 

To date, the film's global total is more than $500 million after just a week in theaters. Universal Pictures International announced Wednesday that the studio reached $1 billion in international box office grosses, with help from "Furious 7" and Universal's other early box office hit "Fifty Shades of Grey."

"The Longest Ride," which is being released by 20th Century Fox, cost about $34 million to make. The romance film follows a star-crossed romance between Luke (Scott Eastwood), a former champion bull rider looking to make a comeback, and Sophia (Britt Robertson), a college student who is about to embark upon her dream job in New York City's art world.

Most of Sparks' book-to-screen adaptations have opened with at least $20 million. “Dear John” starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried debuted in February 2010 to a strong $32.4 million and displaced “Avatar” from the top of the charts. “Safe Haven,” which hit theaters on Valentine’s Day 2013, pocketed $34 million over a five-day holiday weekend.

However, the author's most recent film “The Best of Me" didn't fare as well. It launched in October 2014 with a mere $10.2 million and went on to gross roughly $26.8 million in the U.S. and Canada.

Like Sparks' other films, "The Longest Ride" will probably lure in largely women audiences, fans of Sparks and those who opt out of the action-film frenzy.

Disney's "Cinderella," DreamWorks Animation's "Home" and the Will Ferrell-Kevin Hart comedy "Get Hard" will probably hold over in the top five.

For more news on the entertainment industry, follow me @saba_h

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
71°