With a supercharged debut amidst a pandemic, F9 launches the Fast & Furious franchise to a $6.2 billion total gross that passes the X-Men films.
Over the weekend, F9 helped propel the Fast & Furious franchise past X-Men to become the fifth-highest grossing franchise in box office history. The first film, The Fast and the Furious, opened in 2001 with a budget of only $38 million to a worldwide smash-hit gross of $207 million. Since then, installments such as The Fate of the Furious and Furious 7 have had budgets towering over $150 million while grossing over a billion dollars at the box office apiece. Following the passing of the series star, Paul Walker, the franchise almost came to a halt, but has since managed to propel itself forward again and break new ground.
The original The Fast and the Furious was intended to be a Point Break-esque action thriller for Paul Walker to star in, then hiring Vin Diesel for his performance in 2000's Pitch Black. Diesel left the franchise due to a disinterest in the sequels' critically panned scripts, but after a string of commercial failures for himself such as The Pacifier and The Chronicles of Riddick, he returned for the fourth film: Fast & Furious. After its success, the franchise took less of an emphasis on car culture, instead emphasizing heists and gun fights to attract a wider audience. With the critically applauded Fast Five, the franchise evolved into what it's known for today: intense action sequences and stunts surrounding cars rather than actual races.
The Fast & Furious franchise has now grossed $6.2 billion across ten films, passing the X-Men films to be the fifth-highest grossing franchise of all time, according to Variety. As the pandemic has put a stranglehold on theatrical releases, A Quiet Place Part 2 had been leading the 2021 pack with a $250 million worldwide gross. F9 has already passed $400 million in its second weekend, causing the Universal film to be theorized as a potential rebirth of theatrical releases.
Since Disney's purchase of the X-Men film rights, the last two X-Men films -- 2019's Dark Phoenix and 2020's The New Mutants -- were the two lowest grossing installments in the thirteen-film collective. As the Fast & Furious franchise overtakes the stalled superhero franchise, it approaches the fourth place James Bond at $7.1 billion, the third place Wizarding World at $9.2 billion, the second place Star Wars at $10.3 billion, and the juggernaut MCU at $22.6 billion -- with The Avengers alone being a $7.7 billion crown jewel.
As F9 continues to break franchise records and the release of No Time to Die has been delayed a third time, the possibility that Fast & Furious will pass James Bond with F9 remains a long shot but nevertheless a possibility. Though given that the tenth and eleventh Fast & Furious films plan to film back-to-back and James Bond has yet to pick a successor to Daniel Craig, the likelihood that Fast & Furious will eventually overtake the slow-churning Bond franchise is seemingly certain. The real discussion that remains is whether the supposedly final, eleventh film in the Fast & Furious series could put the series over the Wizarding World, whose Fantastic Beasts films haven't been able to touch the box office grosses of almost any Harry Potter film. For that to happen, the Fast franchise would have to gross another $3 billion, plus whatever Fantastic Beasts 3 makes.