As expected, Universal's The Fate of the Furious debuted in grand fashion last weekend, setting a new box office record for a global opening weekend of $531.9 million, although its $98.7 million domestic debut was far from any sort of record. Over the past few years, the Fast & Furious franchise has established its dominance in the month of April, typically posting huge debuts and repeating atop the box office charts for several weeks in a row, before the summer movie season officially gets under way. The Fate of the Furious is expected to follow that pattern, repeating atop the box office with $49.2 million, easily beating out five new films arriving in nationwide release.
Box Office Mojo reports that, of the five new releases, most will debut in less than half the theaters that Fast & Furious 8 debuted in last weekend (4,310). Warner Bros.' Unforgettable will have the widest release of the bunch with roughly 2,350 theaters, followed by Open Road Films' drama The Promise arriving in roughly 2,000 theaters, with both Cinelou Films' sci-fi horror film Phoenix Forgotten and Disney's documentary Born in China debuting in 1,500 theaters. A24 also releases Free Fire wide this weekend, but there wasn't an estimated theater count quite yet. Free Fire is currently the biggest theatrical hit out of this crop of new releases with a 79% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with Born in China currently at a 75% rating, although none of the other new releases have enough reviews to be counted against the Tomatometer.
We're predicting that Unforgettable debuts in a distant second place behind The Fate of the Furious with $14.2 million. Unforgettable follows Tessa Connover (Katherine Heigl), who is barely coping with the end of her marriage, when she learns that her ex-husband David is now happily engaged to Julia (Rosario Dawson). Trying to settle into her new life, Julia believes she has finally met the man of her dreams, the man who can help her forget her troubled past. Soon, Tessa's jealousy starts to consume her, and she will stop at nothing to turn Julia's paradise into the ultimate nightmare. Denise Di Novi directs Unforgettable from a script by Christina Hodson and David Leslie Johnson, with a supporting cast that includes Geoff Stults, Whitney Cummings and Cheryl Ladd.
The top five will be rounded out by The Promise in third place with $10.3 million, followed by holdovers The Boss Baby ($7.4 million) and Beauty and the Beast ($7.1 million). The Promise follows brilliant medical student Michael (Oscar Isaac), who meets beautiful dance instructor Ana (Charlotte Le Bon) in late 1914. Their shared Armenian heritage sparks an attraction that explodes into a romantic rivalry between Michael and Ana's boyfriend (Christian Bale), an American photojournalist who's dedicated to exposing the truth. As the Ottoman Empire crumbles into war-torn chaos, their conflicting passions must be deferred as they join forces to get themselves and their people to safety. The top 10 will likely be rounded out by Born in China ($6.8 million), Free Fire ($6.2 million), Phoenix Forgotten ($5.3 million), Smurfs: The Lost Village ($4.1 million) and Going in Style ($3.8 million).
Bold, breathless and wickedly fun, Free Fire is an electrifying action comedy about an arms deal that goes spectacularly and explosively wrong. Acclaimed filmmaker Ben Wheatley (Kill List, High Rise) propels the audience head-on into quite possibly the most epic shootout ever seen on film as he crafts a spectacular parody, and biting critique, of the insanity of gun violence. Everyone's got a gun, and absolutely no one is in control. Set in a colorful yet gritty 1970s Boston, Free Fire opens with Justine (Oscar winner Brie Larson), a mysterious American businesswoman, and her wise-cracking associate Ord (Armie Hammer) arranging a black-market weapons deal in a deserted warehouse between IRA arms buyer Chris (Cillian Murphy) and shifty South African gun runner Vernon (Sharlto Copley). What starts as a polite if uneasy exchange soon goes south when tensions escalate and shots are fired, quickly leading to a full-on Battle Royale where it's every man (and woman) for themselves.
Directed by Chinese filmmaker Lu Chuan, Disneynature's Born in China follows the stories of three animal families, transporting audiences to some of the most extreme environments on Earth to witness some of the most intimate moments ever captured in a nature film. A doting panda bear mother guides her growing baby as she begins to explore and seek independence. A two-year-old golden monkey who feels displaced by his new baby sister joins up with a group of free-spirited outcasts. And a mother snow leopard, an elusive animal rarely caught on camera, faces the very real drama of raising her two cubs in one of the harshest and most unforgiving environments on the planet. Featuring stunning, never-before-seen imagery captured in the remote wilds of China, the film is produced by Disney's Roy Conli and premiere nature filmmakers Brian Leith and Phil Chapman.
Phoenix Forgotten is based on the shocking, true events of March 13th, 1997, when several mysterious lights appeared over Phoenix, Arizona. This unprecedented and inexplicable phenomenon became known as "The Phoenix Lights", and remains the most famous and widely viewed UFO sighting in history. Phoenix Forgotten tells the story of three teens who went into the desert shortly after the incident, hoping to document the strange events occurring in their town. They disappeared that night, and were never seen again. Now, on the twentieth anniversary of their disappearance, unseen footage has finally been discovered, chronicling the final hours of their fateful expedition. For the first time ever, the truth will be revealed. Also opening in limited release is IFC's documentary Citizen Jane and MUBI's The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki, with The Lost City of Z expanding to 500 theaters.
Looking ahead to next weekend, three new movies will debut in the last weekend of spring, before Guardians of the Galaxy 2 kicks off the summer movie season on May 5. Opening next weekend is STX Entertainment's The Circle, Pantelion's How to Be a Latin Lover and Blumhouse Tilt's Sleight. Also arriving in limited release is Gunpowder & Sky's Below Her Mouth, Well Go USA's Buster's Mal Heart, Grey Lady, Well Go USA's The Lady and Oscilloscope Pictures' One Week and a Day. Take a look at our projections for the weekend of April 21 below.