‘Fast X’ Speeds to No. 1; Knocks ‘Guardians 3’ to 2nd 

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Vin Diesel in a scene from "Fast X." (Universal Pictures via AP)
This image released by Universal Pictures shows Vin Diesel in a scene from "Fast X." (Universal Pictures via AP)
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‘Fast X’ Speeds to No. 1; Knocks ‘Guardians 3’ to 2nd 

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Vin Diesel in a scene from "Fast X." (Universal Pictures via AP)
This image released by Universal Pictures shows Vin Diesel in a scene from "Fast X." (Universal Pictures via AP)

The 10th installment of the “Fast and Furious” franchise was off to the races this weekend, knocking “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” out of first place and easily claiming the No. 1 spot at the box office. “Fast X” earned $67.5 million in ticket sales from 4,046 North American theaters, according to estimates from Universal Pictures on Sunday.

It’s on the lower end of openings for the series which peaked with “Furious 7’s” $142.2 million launch, the sole movie in the series to surpass $100 million out of the gates. “Fast X’s” domestic debut only ranks above the first three. The last movie, “F9,” opened to $70 million in 2021.

But this is also a series that has usually made the bulk of its money internationally, often over 70%. True to form, overseas it’s on turbo drive. “Fast X” opened in 84 markets internationally, playing in over 24,000 theaters, where it earned an estimated $251.4 million. The top market was China with $78.3 million, followed by Mexico with $16.7 million. And it adds up to a $319 million global debut — the third biggest of the franchise.

“It’s a global franchise with a very broad audience,” said Jim Orr, Universal’s head of domestic distribution. “The themes resonate across the world.”

Directed by Louis Leterrier (who took over from Justin Lin during production), “Fast X” brings back the familiar crew including Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson and Jordana Brewster and adds several newcomers, like Brie Larson, Rita Moreno and a villain played by Jason Momoa. The ever-expanding cast also includes Jason Statham, Charlize Theron, Scott Eastwood and Helen Mirren.

Reports say the movie cost $340 million to produce, not including marketing.

Reviews were mixed for “Fast X,” the beginning of the end for the $6 billion franchise, which currently has a 54% on Rotten Tomatoes. AP’s Mark Kennedy wrote in his review that, “It has become almost camp, as if it breathed in too much of its own fumes” and that it’s also “monstrously silly and stupidly entertaining.”

According to exit polls audienecs were 29% Caucasian, 29% Hispanic and 21% Black, and 58% were between the ages of 18 and 34. They gave the film a B+ CinemaScore.

In its third weekend, Disney and Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” made an estimated $32 million in North America to take second place. It’s now made $266.5 million domestically and $659.1 million globally.

Third place went to another Universal juggernaut, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” which is now in its seventh weekend and available to rent on VOD. Nevertheless, it earned an additional $9.8 million in North America, bringing its domestic total to $549.3 million.

“Book Club: The Next Chapter” added $3 million in its second weekend to take fourth place, while “Evil Dead Rise” rounded out the top five in its fifth weekend with $2.4 million.

“Mario” and “Fast X” are just the latest success stories for Universal, following hits like “Cocaine Bear” and “M3GAN.” And later this summer, on July 21, they’ll release Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer.”

“Universal as a studio is just on a roll like no other by having this incredible slate of films from all different types of genres,” said Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for Comscore. “They’ve created a release strategy that’s really picture perfect so far.”

“Fast X” doesn’t have an entirely open runway though. Next weekend there will be sizable competition in Disney’s live-action “The Little Mermaid,” in addition to a slew of crowd-pleasers hoping to catch a Memorial Day weekend audience, including Julia Louis-Dreyfus in “You Hurt My Feelings” and the broad comedy “About My Father,” with Sebastian Maniscalco and Robert De Niro.



Movie Review: In ‘Deadpool & Wolverine,’ the Superhero Movie Finally Accepts Itself for What It Is 

Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds attend the premiere of "Deadpool & Wolverine" in New York City, New York, US, July 22, 2024. (Reuters)
Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds attend the premiere of "Deadpool & Wolverine" in New York City, New York, US, July 22, 2024. (Reuters)
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Movie Review: In ‘Deadpool & Wolverine,’ the Superhero Movie Finally Accepts Itself for What It Is 

Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds attend the premiere of "Deadpool & Wolverine" in New York City, New York, US, July 22, 2024. (Reuters)
Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds attend the premiere of "Deadpool & Wolverine" in New York City, New York, US, July 22, 2024. (Reuters)

If one thing is certain about “Deadpool,” it’s that its titular hero, for reasons never explained, understands his place in the world — well, in our world.

Indeed, the irreverent and raunchy mutant is sure to belabor his awareness of the context in which he lives — namely an over-saturated, increasingly labyrinthine multibillion-dollar Marvel multiverse which spans decades, studios and too many films for most viewers to count.

From its inception, the “Deadpool” franchise has prided itself on a subversive, self-aware anti-superhero superhero movie, making fun of everything from comic books to Hollywood to its biggest champion, co-writer and star, Ryan Reynolds.

It’s no surprise then, as fans have come to expect, that the long-anticipated “Deadpool & Wolverine” further embraces its fourth wall-breaking self-awareness — even as it looks increasingly and more earnestly like the superhero movie blueprint it loves to exploit. That tension — the fact that “Deadpool” has called out comic book movie tropes despite being, in fact, a comic book movie — is somehow remedied in “Deadpool & Wolverine,” which leans into its genre more than the franchise’s first two movies.

Perhaps this gives viewers more clarity on its intended audience. After all, someone who hates superhero films — I’m looking at you, Scorsese — isn’t going to be won over because of a few self-deprecating jokes about lazy writing, budgets for A-list cameos and the overused “superhero landing” Reynolds’ Deadpool regularly refers to.

But this time around, director Shawn Levy — his first Marvel movie — seems to have found a sweet spot. Levy is surely helped by the fact that the third film in the franchise has a bigger budget, more hype and, of course, a brooding Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.

That anticipation makes their relationship, packed with hatred and fandom, all the more enticing. Their fight scenes against each other are just as compelling as their moments of self-sacrificial partnership in the spirit of, you guessed it, saving the world(s).

Speaking of worlds, there is one important development in our own to be aware of ahead of time. The first two “Deadpool” films were distributed by 20th Century Fox, whose $71.3 billion acquisition by the Walt Disney Co. in 2019 opened the door for the franchise to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, “Deadpool & Wolverine” takes full advantage of that vast playground, which began in 2008 with Robert Downey Jr.’s “Iron Man” and now includes more than 30 films and a host of television shows. The acquisition is also a recurring target of Deadpool’s sarcasm throughout the movie.

Although steeped in references and cameos that can feel a bit like inside baseball for the less devoted, “Deadpool & Wolverine” is easy enough to follow for the casual Marvel viewer, though it wouldn’t hurt to have seen the first “Deadpool” and Jackman’s 2017 “Logan,” a harbinger of the increasing appetite for R-rated superhero violence. The Disney+ series “Loki” also gives helpful context, though is by no means a must watch, on the Time Variance Authority, which polices multiverse timelines to avoid “incursions,” or the catastrophic colliding of universes.

A defining feature of “Deadpool” has been its R rating and hyper violent action scenes. Whether thanks to more money, Levy’s direction or some combination of the two, these scenes are much more visually appealing.

But “Deadpool & Wolverine” does succumb to some of the deus ex machina writing that so often plagues superhero movies. Wade Wilson’s (the real identity of Deadpool) relationship with his ex (?) Vanessa is particularly underdeveloped — though it’s possible that ambiguity is a metaphor for Deadpool’s future within the MCU.

The plot feels aimless at points toward the end. One cameo-saturated battle scene in particular is resolved in a way that leaves its audience wanting after spending quite a bit of time building tension around it. While there are a few impressive stars who make an appearance, audiences may be disappointed by the amount of MCU characters referenced who don’t make it in.

The bloody but comedic final fight scene, however, is enough to perk viewers back up for the last act, solidifying the film’s identity as a fun, generally well-made summer movie.

The sole MCU release of 2024, “Deadpool & Wolverine” proves it’s not necessarily the source material that’s causing so-called superhero fatigue. It also suggests, in light of Marvel’s move to scale back production following a pandemic and historic Hollywood strikes, that increased attention given to making a movie will ultimately help the final product.