Weekend Box Office Forecast: FAST X Eyes $58M+ Domestic Debut; Will GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3 Remain a Formidable Foe?

Photo Credits: Universal ("Fast X"); Disney & Marvel Studios ("Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3")

Friday Update: Universal reports Fast X earned $7.5 million from domestic previews on Thursday. A full analysis and updated weekend outlook is available here.

Wednesday Forecast: Dom Toretto and family are getting a jump on the Memorial Day market toward the end of this month with the debut of Fast X, which looks to extend the franchise’s streak of first place debuts to eight in a row and ten overall.

That run dates back to 2009’s Fast & Furious series revival, which revamped the brand after 2006’s The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift — while profitable and influential for the series — was seen as a box office disappointment in the domestic market when its first weekend only managed a third place showing.

Since then, the IP has exploded with more than a handful of sequels and 2019’s successful spin-off, Hobbs & Shaw. Still, as noted in prior forecasts, the series has seen diminished returns both domestically and globally since its peak with Furious 7 in 2015.

F9 can arguably be given an asterisk, though. As one of the first tentpole films to be given a traditional theatrical window during the early stages of theatrical re-openings mid-pandemic in summer 2021, that sequel’s $70 million domestic start was an encouraging sign for the industry overall despite the fact that it was down 29 percent from The Fate of the Furious‘s $98.8 million three-day start in 2017.

As the series moves forward with returning ensemble cast members and new additions like Jason Momoa and Brie Larson, among others, the core fan base is expected to turn out again for Fast X this weekend.

Social media trends and advance ticket sales have slightly trailed the pace of F9, as well as Black Adam and John Wick: Chapter 4, but the late sales and walk-up elements have historically been good for the series. Friday sales are more encouraging than those of Adam and comparable to Creed III.

There’s an element of predictability to these films as they settle into a front-loaded nature with an “if you’re in, you’re in” mentality underpinning their basis for success, similar to that of other franchises whose casual audience appeal may not be at its peak anymore but still casts a wide net.

That’s especially true on the global front, which remains the more important barometer for the Fast franchise. F9‘s $719.4 million worldwide haul was dominated by a 76 percent international share even during the pandemic, not dissimilar from Hobbs & Shaw‘s 77 percent of $760.7 million.

To that end, while domestic performance might run under that of F9‘s $70 million start, Universal expects a global debut around $280 million or more. Broken out, the studio expects $60 million domestically and $220 million everywhere else through this Sunday.

While studio expectations are often seen as the floor of what’s likely to occur, it bears considering that an opening under $60 million cannot be ruled out in a number of reliable models.

Meanwhile, the continued legs of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 shouldn’t be discounted even with the new competition.

James Gunn’s trilogy-capper posted one of the best MCU holds ever, and the best since Black Panther in 2018, with just a 47.6 percent decline in its second weekend. The pic faced no competition and retained premium screens, but strong word of mouth is clearly in play for the crowd-pleasing, humorous, and emotional send-off.

That’s a key factor to consider in Fast X‘s prospects. While the Universal tentpole will wipe out the vast majority of Guardians‘ premium screen footprint (thus impacting average ticket prices for the Marvel sequel), the competition and crossover for casual viewers of both franchises will be intriguing to follow.

Does Guardians‘ reception spur another strong attendance hold despite the loss of IMAX, et al? Will Fast X‘s current 57 percent critics’ score make any difference among the non-die-hard fans of that series?

If the answer to either question ends up as a yes, it could create a much smaller gap between the opening performance of Fast X and Vol. 3‘s third frame than many once expected.

Weekend Ranges

Fast X
Opening Weekend Range: $58 – 73 million

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Third Weekend Range: $29 – 35 million

Weekend Forecast & Location Count Projections

Current projection ranges call for a 15 to 30 percent increase from last weekend’s $95.2 million top ten aggregate.

Film Studio 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, May 21 Fri Location Count Projection (as of Wed) 3-Day % Change from Last Wknd
Fast X Universal Pictures $65,400,000 $65,400,000 ~4,000 NEW
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Disney / Marvel Studios $32,900,000 $267,400,000 ~3,900 -47%
The Super Mario Bros. Movie Universal Pictures $10,300,000 $549,800,000 ~3,400 -18%
Book Club: The Next Chapter Focus Features $2,900,000 $13,000,000 ~3,508 -57%
Evil Dead Rise Warner Bros. Pictures $2,400,000 $64,200,000 ~2,300 -35%
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Lionsgate $1,300,000 $18,600,000 ~1,900 -48%
John Wick: Chapter 4 Lionsgate $1,200,000 $185,200,000 ~1,300 -42%
Hypnotic Ketchup Entertainment $1,100,000 $4,200,000 ~2,118 -54%

All forecasts are subject to revision/finalization before the first confirmation of opening previews or Friday estimates from studios or official sources.

Theater counts are either studio estimates OR unofficial projections if preceded by “~”.

The above table does not necessarily represent the top ten as some studios do not finalize weekend location counts and/or an intent to report box office returns prior to publishing.

Photo Credits: Universal ("Fast X"); Disney & Marvel Studios ("Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3")