New 'Fast & Furious' film nabs biggest opening of the pandemic so far

"F9," the ninth installment in the popular Fast & Furious franchise, doesn't open in US theaters until June 25, but it's already off to a hot start at the box office.

(CNN) -- "F9," the ninth installment in the popular Fast & Furious franchise, doesn't open in US theaters until June 25, but it's already off to a hot start at the box office.

The film, which stars Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto, the street racer turned master thief turned super spy, took in $162.4 million internationally this weekend. Of that total, $135.6 million came from China — the biggest movie market in the world.

It marks the biggest opening for a Hollywood film during the pandemic so far.

"F9's" solid performance is welcome news for a movie theater industry looking to rebound after a horrible year. Theater owners have been left reeling by the Covid-19 pandemic, upending business by closing cineplexes for months around the world.

As the US summer movie season — historically Hollywood's most lucrative period — kicks off next weekend with Paramount's "A Quiet Place Part 2" and Disney's "Cruella," the industry is looking for signals that audiences are eager to return.

The performance of "F9" so far is a great sign, according to Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore.

"If the impressive international results are any indication, then 'F9' may have US audiences lining up to get in on the action come next month," he said.

The brand is incredibly popular overseas, especially in China, and it appears that the pandemic hasn't dampened that enthusiasm.

"Fast & Furious" films have brought in more than $6 billion globally. The last film in the series, 2017's "The Fate of the Furious," earned $1.2 billion around the world — 82% of that sum was from overseas markets, according to Comscore.

Whether the performance of "F9" internationally this weekend will translate to the US next month remains to be seen.

However, as vaccinations continue to ramp up and Covid restrictions loosen, there's hope that summer films like "F9" can lead to a resurgence for a besieged theater industry.

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