Action movie Furious 7 has taken $384 million (£257 million) at the global box office in its opening weekend.
Almost half of that figure – $190 million (£127 million) – was made at the US box office.
Globally, it is the fourth-highest opening of all time, beaten only by two Harry Potter films and The Avengers. And its foreign gross of $240.4 million from 63 markets makes it the No. 3 international opening of all time and the biggest start for a Universal title, even without China, where it rolls out April 12. Furious 7 came in No. 1 in every territory, led by the U.K. ($19 million), Germany ($15.2 million), France ($11.4 million) and Australia ($11.2 million).
While the “Fast and Furious” films have grown in popularity over the past three films, the mega-opening for “Furious 7” was also at least partially tied to audience interest in star Paul Walker, who died in a car crash in Nov. 2013 before the film was completed.
Following the fatal accident, production on Furious 7 was suspended while the filmmakers decided whether or not to proceed.
The team ultimately decided to delay the release from its scheduled July 2014 date. Walker’s scenes were completed using a mixture of computer animation and body doubles – including two of the star’s younger brothers, Caleb and Cody.
“This is a bittersweet instalment in the franchise,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com.
“Walker’s passing made this movie more intriguing for people who hadn’t seen some of the instalments. It raised awareness and its success is a tribute to him.”
Film company Universal said Walker’s death “probably created some curiosity” amongst audiences but added: “It’s not by any means the prime motivator to see the movie”.
“Someone that I admire quite a lot recently said this is a franchise that really looks like America, and there are characters that everyone can relate to. I think that’s a big plus,” said Universal president of domestic distribution Nicholas Carpou. “And I think Paul was another big reason for people to come to our movie.”
The film will also debut in Russia, Poland, Japan, and China in the coming weeks.
This time out, the plot pits Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto and crew (which includes Michelle Rodriguez and Tyrese Gibson, among others, as well as Walker) against Jason Statham’sDeckard Shaw, out for revenge after the death of his brother. Dwayne Johnson also reprises his role as Hobbs.