Most franchises don't make it to movie 7 without losing some of the audience and its precious box office take, but the exact opposite is true when it comes to the Fast and Furious franchise, which continues to gain fans and grow with each new release. Yesterday saw the opening debut of Furious 7, which exceeded expectations, setting a new benchmark for the action-packed saga. The film pulled in an estimated $67.3 million on Friday (which includes Thursday previews).

Furious 7 serves as an emotional farewell for franchise mainstay Paul Walker, who passed away unexpectedly in the midst of shooting this sequel. The film pulled in $15.8 million when it screened in select theaters across the country on Thursday night, beating the previous April record holder for Thursday screenings, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. That Marvel release took in an estimated $10.2 million when it opened at this time last year. Furious 7 expanded into over 4,000 theaters on Friday, including IMAX screens, where it averaged $16,000 per IMAX venue.

Fast & Furious 6 opened the Friday before Memorial day back in 2013, and it pulled in just $38.7 million, clearing $97.4 million over its first three days in theaters. Also opening in May 2013, Iron Man 3 pulled in $69 million during its first Friday, and went onto clear $174 million during its opening weekend run. The Dark Knight earned $67.1 million when it opened in July of 2008, taking in $158 million across its opening weekend. Judging from these numbers, box office pundits place Furious 7 at between $150 million to $168 million opening weekend, breaking April box office records.

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Furious 7 did have the advantage of opening on Good Friday, a school holiday when most kids are out of school and heading to the theater. Some speculate that Friday could be the sequel's biggest day of release at the box office. If the film does pull in at least $150 million over Easter Weekend, that will put it in the top ten box office openings of all time at number 9, just behind Spider-Man 3 at number 8 and in front of The Twilight Saga: New Moon at number 10. It would completely bump The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 off the charts. The film has already beat Easter Weekend record holder Clash of the Titans. What other records will it have broken when the dust clears? We'll keep you updated with full weekend box office results tomorrow.

B. Alan Orange at Movieweb
B. Alan Orange