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Fast & Furious spinoff tops box office

The big-budget movie is expected to be an even bigger draw overseas, where the action franchise is hugely popular

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The movie's US$60 million domestic opening weekend marks the biggest bow for Johnson (right) and Statham's careers outside of the main Fast & Furious franchise.

Los Angeles

UNIVERSAL'S Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw crossed the box office finish line in first place, debuting with US$60.8 million from 4,253 North American locations.

The big-budget spinoff, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Jason Statham, is expected to be an even bigger draw overseas, where the action franchise is hugely popular.

Hobbs & Shaw kicked off internationally with a robust US$120 million for a global start of US$180 million. Although standalone vehicles aren't always as muscular as official franchise sequels, Hobbs & Shaw will have to lure crowds across the globe throughout the dog days of summer to justify its sizable US$200 million budget.

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The Fast & Furious series has generated over US$5 billion worldwide across eight films to date.

"We are very thrilled with the global release, a tremendous start with a big market like China still to come," said Jim Orr, Universal's president of domestic distribution.

Opening weekend crowds skewed expectedly male, with boys and men accounting for nearly 60 per cent of tickets sold.

Hobbs & Shaw enticed moviegoers young and old, as 50 per cent of audiences were over the age of 25. Those who showed up this weekend were high on the action and thrills, awarding the film with an "A-minus" CinemaScore and a 90 per cent audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Orr attributes the film's "very broad appeal" directly to Jonhson and his massive fanbase.

"David Leitch, The Rock and Jason Statham created an original and really thrilling adventure that complements the franchise tremendously well," he said.

Its US$60 million domestic opening weekend marks the biggest bow for Johnson and Statham's careers outside of the main Fast & Furious franchise.

The US$180 million figure also represents Universal's fifth-highest grossing global launch ever, behind The Fate of the Furious, Jurassic World, Furious 7 and Fifty Shades of Grey.

In Hobbs & Shaw, the first spinoff in the Fast & Furious universe, Johnson's Luke Hobbs and Statham's Deckard Shaw unite to take down a genetically enhanced anarchist (Idris Elba). The star-studded cast also includes Helen Mirren and Vanessa Kirby.

David Leitch, known for his work on Deadpool 2, directed the film, which was written by Fast vets Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce.

Despite the new nationwide release, Sony and director Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood had a strong second weekend in theatres, placing third on domestic box office charts.

The R-rated drama with Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie collected US$20 million, marking a 51 per cent decline from its inaugural outing. After 10 days of release, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has made US$78 million in North America.

Meanwhile, reigning champ Disney's The Lion King slid to second spot with a solid US$38 million. The hyperrealistic remake - directed by Jon Favreau - is the fourth Disney movie this year to cross US$400 million in domestic ticket sales.

With US$430 million in North America and US$1.19 billion internationally, The Lion King is now the second-biggest film of the year both domestically and globally.

Sony's Spider-Man: Far From Home landed in fourth place, generating US$7.7 million to boost its North American haul to US$360 million. The web-slinging superhero sequel has made US$1.08 billion worldwide, including US$715 million at the international box office.

Rounding out the top five is Disney's Toy Story 4 with US$7.2 million, taking the animated movie to US$410 million at the domestic box office.

Elsewhere, indie box office favourite The Farewell continues to fare well as it slowly expands to theatres across the country.

A24's comedic drama landed at No 7, pocketing US$2.4 million from 409 venues. The film, starring Awkwafina and directed by Lulu Wang, has amassed US$6.8 million to date.

Also at the specialty box office, Neon's drama Luce brought in US$132,916 when it debuted in five locations. Naomi Watts and Octavia Spencer lead the movie, which was directed by The Cloverfield Paradox filmmaker Julius Onah.

As the end-summer moviegoing season nears, domestic ticket sales are still down over 6 per cent from last year, according to Comscore. Unless there is a surprise hit in coming weeks, the North American box office might be free of blockbusters until Warner Bros' It Chapter Two scares some life into theatres in September. REUTERS