Universal and director F. Gary Gray's The Fate of the Furious fired up its engines with $10.4 million in Thursday night previews from 3,310 North American theaters.
The eighth outing in the octane-fueled action franchise is also opening around the world this weekend and should finish Easter Sunday with $400 million in global ticket sales. China, where it is already breaking records, could bring in $200 million alone.
Domestically, Furious 8 is projected to open north of $100 million. In April 2015, Furious 7 - the final film in the series to star Paul Walker, who died in a tragic car crash in November 2013 - debuted to a record-shattering $147 million domestically after earning $15.8 million in Thursday previews.
On the international front, Fate of the Furious scooped up $58.4 million from 41 markets on Thursday to post Universal's highest-grossing Thursday ever. The early international total, including Wednesday and Thursday openings, stands at $82.2 million, with the movie checking in as the No. 1 opening in every territory where it's been released.
In China alone, the movie kicked off with midnight shows on Thursday at which it grossed RMB 60 million ($8.7 million). The early estimate for Friday's boxoffice amounts to RMB 380 million ($55.2 million gross). The movie's Friday opening is chalking up a number of records: biggest opening day of all time; biggest single day box office of all time; and biggest Friday of all time. By the end of the day, the movie is expected to chalk up RMB 380 million or $55.2 million.
Gray is making his franchise debut after helming Straight Outta Compton for Universal. Fate of the Furious once again stars Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Nathalie Emmanuel, Elsa Pataky and Kurt Russell. Newcomers include Charlize Theron, Helen Mirren and Scott Eastwood. The story follows a villainous superhacker (Theron) who turns Diesel's character against his crew.
Heralded for their diverse casts and globetrotting storylines, the Fast and Furious movies have collectively grossed more than $3.9 billion globally. Furious 7 was far and away the biggest earner and the only installment to cross $1 billion on its way to finishing its worldwide run with $1.516 billion.
Fate of the Furious certainly spooked the competition - there is no other movie opening nationwide this weekend.
By Friday morning, the movie will be playing in more than 4,300 theaters, the widest release in history for a non-summer title.
April 14, 10:45 a.m.: Updated with international box-office numbers.