Can ‘Fast X’ Turn a Profit for Universal, Even With a Massive Budget this Time Around?

When it comes to family, nothing can stop you except when dollars aren’t rolling your way enough for a popular IP on the verge of closing out its main saga within the following year. Granted, this conjecture is rather far-fetched, but we’ll have to do the evaluation and math here to see if it holds any weight.

Our favorite family (yes, I’ll be using that word overabundantly regarding this brand) crew led by Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto is banding together again for another world-ending adventure as a foe from their past erupts and joins forces with Charlie Theron’s notorious Cipher. Nothing beats the power of family, even when you’ve conquered your enemy twice, right? Fortuitous or not, the screenwriters must leave the family in a positive mood once the credits roll. Furious 7 brought tears as we said goodbye to Paul Walker. The Fate of the Furious brought former foes in as a family yet made Dwayne Johnson storm offscreen (literally) to do a spinoff, vowing not to return to work with Vin Diesel. F9 abruptly shoved in John Cena as Dom’s brother Jacob and then had him reconcile with the family; invigorating, they say. I will drive my car into space if Fast X has Jason Momoa become Dom’s brother-in-law.

Anyway, there remains an ever-so-slight possibility that something more consequential will unfold in the penultimate chapter, a cliffhanger of sorts that replicates Avengers: Infinity War. Could someone from the team die (and stay dead)? Will Momoa’s villainous character score a victory over our coveted family? Will Dominic Toretto lose for once? All answers will arrive in May, showing us what path the series will jump into for its final cast call in 2024. That said, there will be some bumps in the road for the speculation being, as a $340 million budget (70% higher than F9‘s) makes it easily the most expensive entry in the action franchise.

A hefty cost for a feature as ambitious as this is warranted, considering Avatar: The Way of Water, Avengers 2-4, and Pirates of the Caribbean 4 forged ahead (and higher) to rousing success at the box office worldwide. Increased salaries for the cast, production, lingering COVID-19 protocols, and the Brobdingnagian marketing campaign will all need their bases covered in the 10th installment backed by Universal Studios. However, we do have to recognize that F9‘s $726 million worldwide was the last installment to appear, meaning this new one must obliterate that number to tout as a “success.” Our best guess is that its break-even point is around $750-800 million, which dictates that a one billion mark might be the bar this time (only F7 and F8 have achieved this task, thus far).

It’s not impossible this time, as the marketing has been promoting “The End of the Road Begins” and bringing every new talent or former player into the fold. Jason Momoa and Brie Larson join the fray, already having high-grossing features under their belts in the superhero IP. But, the obstacles in Fast X‘s path this summer are pretty staggering since A) it is releasing in between a jumbled load of summer blockbusters (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, The Little Mermaid, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts), B) being led by a different director than Justin Lin may or may not be helpful and C) the massive expenses put a strain on its expectations. Remember, the Fast series plays exceptionally well overseas, which is the one factor in their favor (even if one actor had to apologize to China, which could or not be in the fold in the next few months).

Hypothetically, if it earns mediocre reviews, a domestic gross between $250-300 million, and a worldwide total of around $1-1.1 billion, it will be in a safe spot for ensuring there’s more to come for the finale. Numbers closer to Fast & Furious 6 ($239 million domestic, $788.6 million worldwide) will ensure Universal to tiptoe on thin ice, while earnings closer to Fate of the Furious ($226 million domestic, $1.236 billion) will have critics shove their reviews back on their home desks. On a side note, Universal will have to start developing new tentpole franchises aside from Dominic Toretto and Jurassic Park dinosaurs.

Had Justin Lin stayed around as director and Dwayne Johnson dipped his toes in for the last two installments, this discussion would’ve been prevented from surfacing. In this scenario, Fast X will inevitably deliver the expected, over-the-top action with all the tricks it can reach deep down for and the family it incorporates. Whether this chapter will have plenty of fuel for the big blow-off in 2024 remains the enticing question, although we may be overlooking the grandness of it all.

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