Furious 7 races to worldwide box office lead
Action movie Furious 7 has taken $384 million (£257 million) at the global box office in its opening weekend.
Almost half of that figure - $143.6 million (£96 million) - was made at the US box office.
Globally, it is the fourth-highest opening of all time, beaten only by two Harry Potter films and The Avengers.
Interest in the film was at least partially tied to its late star Paul Walker, who died in a car crash in before the film was completed in 2013.
Following the fatal accident, production on Furious 7 was suspended while the filmmakers decided whether or not to proceed.
The team ultimately decided to delay the release from its scheduled July 2014 date. Walker's scenes were completed using a mixture of computer animation and body doubles - including two of the star's younger brothers, Caleb and Cody.
"This is a bittersweet instalment in the franchise," said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com.
"Walker's passing made this movie more intriguing for people who hadn't seen some of the instalments. It raised awareness and its success is a tribute to him."
Film company Universal said Walker's death "probably created some curiosity" amongst audiences but added: "It's not by any means the prime motivator to see the movie".
The adrenalin-fuelled franchise has gone from strength to strength since its low-key beginnings as a genre movie about street racing in Los Angeles.
The original - The Fast and the Furious, released in June 2001 - was a sleeper hit that spawned a few moderately successful sequels.
After the third film in the series, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift, left cinemas with a franchise-worst box office of $158 million (£106 million), it seemed the series would be scrapped, or move to the straight-to-DVD market.
Instead, executives persuaded Vin Diesel, the star of the original film, to return and made Fast & Furious - a heist film set overseas.
Since then, the franchise has gone from strength to strength, with each movie outperforming the last.
|Fast and the Furious - in figures|
|Title||Year||Budget||Global box office|
|The Fast and the Furious||2001||$38 million||$207,283,925|
|2 Fast 2 Furious||2003||$76 million||$236,350,661|
|The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift||2006||$85 million||$158,468,292|
|Fast & Furious||2009||$85 million||$363,164,265|
|Fast Five||2011||$125 million||$626,137,675|
|Fast and Furious 6||2013||$160 million||$788,679,850|
|Furious 7||2015||$190 million||$384,023,000 (one-week figure)|
"This franchise took the road less travelled and became a trailblazer," Jeff Bock, a box office analyst told Variety magazine.
"You don't have the highest-grossing film in a series come seven films into a franchise. That has a lot to do with the way they're continually upping the ante."
Universal spared no expense in rolling out the seventh film. The $190 million (£127 million) production opened in 4,003 US cinemas, and earned $14 million (£9.3 million) on 365 Imax screens.
Its global success was achieved without the help of the Chinese market, where the film will not debut until 12 April.
"This could be the first in the franchise to flirt with the billion dollar mark," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior analyst for box office company Rentrak.
|US and Canada box office|
|1) Furious 7 - $143.6 million (£96 million)|
|2) Home - $27.4 million (£18.4 million)|
|3) Get Hard - $12.9 million (£8.6 million)|
|4) Cinderella - $10.3 million (£6.9 million)|
|5) The Divergent Series: Insurgent - $10 million (£6.7 million)|