The latest installment in Universal’s testosterone-fueled franchise kicked off with a massive $162.4 million in eight markets, including China, Korea and Hong Kong. Those ticket sales easily mark the best start for a Hollywood blockbuster since COVID-19 hit.

It’s an encouraging start to summer movie season, particularly because revenues weren’t far off from what a Fast movie would have generated at the box office in non-pandemic times.

“Moviegoers are eager to come back to theaters when the right movie is out there,” Universal’s president of international distribution Veronika Kwan Vandenberg said. “It’s a great movie for the China market,” she adds. “It has a strong fanbase.”

Of this weekend’s $162 million bounty, $135 million came from China alone. That ranks as the second-biggest launch for the series in the country following the eighth entry, 2017’s The Fate of the Furious ($184 million). In another notable milestone, it’s the first Hollywood title in two years — since Disney’s 2019 superhero epic Avengers: Endgame — to debut to more than $100 million in China.

Elsewhere, F9 opened to $9.9 million in Korea, as well as $6.2 million in the Middle East and $2.4 million in Hong Kong. With this weekend’s ticket sales, the Fast franchise has pushed past $6 billion globally.

F9 — directed by Justin Lin and starring Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, John Cena — is deploying a staggered rollout across the world as the globe recovers from the pandemic. It touches down in the U.S. on June 25 and will bow in 60 additional markets over the summer. Unlike upcoming blockbuster hopefuls, such as Disney’s Black Widow and the Warner Bros.

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