Earlier this month The Fate of the Furious bested The Force Awakens‘ worldwide opening weekend, a truly incredible feat, but what does the rest of that top 10 look like?
There used to be a time when people outside the US had to wait months and sometimes even years to get a certain big movie in theaters. Back then international numbers would trickle over a very long period of time and the concept of a worldwide opening weekend was nonexistent. That explains why the oldest movie you’ll see in this top 10 is Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which came out only 8 years ago. Opening in as many markets as possible at the same time started to become a thing around May 2002 with the release of Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. That one is the oldest movie in the top 100, its worldwide start currently ranking 64th ($179.3 million).
Today studios want to get as much as they can as fast as possible because there’s always a competitor with something new right around the corner. You either make your money back opening weekend or your film is deemed a box office disappointment and the following week something else steals most of your screens. Sure, there’s a lot of money to be made in the movie business, but the stakes have never been higher than they are now.
But enough about that, let’s get back to the main topic and explain a few things. Worldwide box office means whatever a movie made internationally and in North America (the latter I usually abbreviate as US, despite domestic numbers always including Canada too). By extension international box office is whatever a movie makes outside the US (North America). So a film’s worldwide opening weekend will include whatever it made opening weekend internationally and in the US. In some cases a movie can open a week earlier outside the US, like say Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 this weekend, that’s when the worldwide start will be made of that first international weekend plus the first US one (whenever that comes).
Of course most movies don’t open everywhere at the same time, so the titles below weren’t really competing on the same level. For example The Force Awakens opened in China weeks later, so its worldwide start could have been even bigger. In some cases China can mean the difference between sitting outside the top 10 or at number 1. Without further ado here are the top 10 biggest worldwide opening weekend of all time, unadjusted for ticket price inflation.
10. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) – $382.4 million
Dark of the Moon‘s worldwide debut did not include China, which in this case would have added another $56 million. The 3rd Transformers earned $1.123 billion worldwide over its entire box office run, currently 13th among the highest grossing films of all time.
9. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) – $392.5 million
Age of Ultron didn’t include China either and with the $155.8 million coming from there the Avengers sequel could have made it all the way to number 1. Overall the film made $1.405 billion worldwide, 7th on the all-time chart.
8. Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) – $392.5 million
Nope, that’s not a typo, the difference between The Avengers and its sequel really came down to tens of thousands of dollars. And like Age of Ultron this didn’t have China at the start either. When all was said and done The Avengers generated $1.518 billion worldwide, 5th place.
7. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) – $394 million
The 6th Potter movie ended up with $934.4 million worldwide, 41st on the all-time chart. No China opening weekend here either, although back then it would not have made a big difference either way.
6. Furious 7 (2015) – $397.7 million
This one opened in China a week after almost everyone else, on a Sunday. Now Box Office Mojo has it at $182.4 million opening weekend over there and I’m not exactly sure how they came up with that number. I’m guessing they counted Sunday plus the week after, which would be 8 days (or 7 if they stopped on Saturday). Regardless Furious 7 had an incredible start and went on to gross $1.516 billion worldwide, enough for 6th on the all-time chart.
5. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) – $422.5 million
Dawn of Justice did have China helping out with $55.7 million. Without it the superhero flick would sit outside this top 10. Overall Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice made $873.3 million worldwide, 51st on the all-time chart, the lowest of all the other movies on this list.
4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011) – $483.2 million
Back in 2011 Deathly Hallows Part 2 obliterated the worldwide opening weekend record with these numbers, improving on Half-Blood by almost $90 million. At the time I though this record would stick around for longer than 4 years. Well it didn’t. China ($29.7 million start a few weeks later) would not have made any difference here. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 stopped at $1.341 billion worldwide, currently 8th place on the all-time chart.
3. Jurassic World (2015) – $525.5 million
Jurassic World on the other hand could not have broken Deathly Hallows Part 2‘s record without China’s $99.2 million contribution. Overall the film made $1.670 billion worldwide, 4th place on the all-time chart.
2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) – $529 million*
The Force Awakens didn’t have China day one either, but with its $52.3 million start (which came weeks later) the Star Wars movie would still hold the worldwide opening weekend record. Star Wars: The Force Awakens turned in $2.068 billion worldwide over its entire box office run, ranking 3rd on the all-time chart.
1. The Fate of the Furious (2017) – $541.9 million
And we finally arrived at the current record holder, The Fate of the Furious, or Fast and Furious 8 in many countries. As you can probably guess China was a big factor here, by far the biggest one actually. So here’s the thing, I have conflicting reports for The Fate of the Furious‘ Chinese opening weekend (and it really was a weekend this time, Friday to Sunday). Box Office Mojo is saying $184.9 million while EntGroup has it at $196.6 million. Regardless which one of those is the actual number, without that huge opening weekend in China The Fate of the Furious would not be in this top 10. As of yesterday this film is past $1 billion worldwide.
That’s that for this top 10. Looking into the future for movies that could potentially break this record, I believe it will either be Avengers: Infinity War in May next year or Star Wars: Episode IX in May 2019. Why not The Last Jedi? It’s a December release and it probably won’t open as high as The Force Awakens in the US, plus China definitely won’t be there day 1, not in December. What do you think?