The ninth installment in the "Fast and Furious" series became the biggest money-maker in North American theatres since the onset of Covid-19 pandemic.

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Vin Diesel, left, and Michelle Rodriguez in a scene from
This image released by Universal Pictures shows Vin Diesel, left, and Michelle Rodriguez in a scene from "F9: The Fast Saga." (AP)

Universal's new "F9: The Fast Saga" not only lapped all other films in North American theatres this weekend, it has pulverised them with an estimated take of $70 million, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations reported.

Confirming the persistent appeal of fast cars and muscle-bound men, this ninth installment in the "Fast and Furious" franchise easily became the biggest money-maker since the Covid-19 pandemic began, even as one in five US theaters and most of those in Canada remain shuttered. 

Ticket sales overseas have passed $300 million.

The plot? Suffice it to say that Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and John Cena have to deal not only with exploding cars, plane crashes and private armies but also rocket cars, electromagnetic weapons and ominous satellites.

Coming in second -- left far behind in the dust of "F9" -- was Paramount's "A Quiet Place Part II," at $6.2 million for the three-day weekend. 

The John Krasinski-directed horror film, starring his wife Emily Blunt, has shown staying power, however. 

Since its release five weeks ago it has taken in $136 million domestically and $112 million overseas.

'New normal is coming'

In third place was "The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard," from Lionsgate, at $4.88 million. 

The action comedy has Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Salma Hayek reprising their roles from 2017's "The Hitman's Bodyguard."

In fourth, down one spot from last weekend, was Sony's family-friendly "Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway," at $4.85 million. 

The mixed live-action/animation has James Corden voicing the title role, with live performances by Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson and David Oyelowo.

And again in fifth place was Disney's family-friendly origin film "Cruella," at $3.7 million. 

Emma Stone stars as the pooch-tormenting title villain.

So, how should Hollywood be feeling about its incipient recovery? 

"The industry is still settling" after its 15-month shutdown, David Gross, who runs movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research, told Variety. 

"The effects of the pandemic will take time to heal, (but) the new normal is coming."

Rounding out the top 10 were:

"The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It" ($2.9 million)

"In the Heights" ($2.2 million)

"Spirit Untamed" ($1 million)

"12 Mighty Orphans" ($592,000)

"Nobody" ($560,000)

Source: AFP