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'F9' looks to rev up box office as strategist warns industry 'not out of the woods yet'

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Bloomberg Intelligence Senior Media Analyst Geetha Ranganathan joins Yahoo Finance's Alexandra Canal to break down the latest box office expectations surrounding the new 'Fast and Furious' film.

Video Transcript

- Tell me you're not thinking what I think you're thinking. There's no bridge!

- Oh, hell no.

ZACK GUZMAN: That's right. Forget Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Nick Cage. It's time for Vin Diesel, all the weight falling on his shoulders to bring back another installment of "The Fast and Furious" franchise to bring back moviegoers in theaters. Yahoo Finance's Allie Canal joins us in this week's "Fame and Fortune" with a very special guest to break down those box office hopes. Ali.

ALEXANDRA CANAL: Yeah, Zack, big question. Can "F9" rev up the box office? I'm joined now by Geetha Ranganathan. She is Bloomberg's Intelligence Senior Media Analyst. Geetha, thank you so much for joining us today. Now Universal anticipates ticket sales will reach 60 million over its first three days when it comes to "F9." Now the last "Fast and Furious" film garnered nearly 100 million. So what are your expectations here? And what's the new threshold in this post COVID-19 world when it comes to a, quote unquote, "box office success?"

GEETHA RANGANATHAN: Yeah, that's a great question, Allie. And thank you so much for having me. So it's really, everything is kind of up in the air, right? So this is the first big movie that we are seeing in this post-pandemic world, which has this huge audience appeal. For the first time now, you have theaters kind of opening up. You have capacity restrictions kind of easing. You have those vaccination rates going up. So it's kind of almost like the stars are kind of finally aligning.

And so I think if the movie is-- so projections are right now ranging anywhere from about 60 to 80 million. We have Box Office Pro almost going up to about 67 million, which would be excellent. Anything above 70 million I'm going to say is going to be a huge, huge success, just kind of given all of the different things that we are dealing with right now. So it's still kind of a little bit of a wait and watch. I don't think necessarily that-- the outlook is definitely looking great. Things are brightening up. But I don't necessarily think that the industry is completely out of the woods yet. And we have to kind of see if this recovery can be sustained.

ALEXANDRA CANAL: And I'm also curious, because we've seen these big, flashy blockbusters perform very well internationally. "F9" made its international debut last month, earning 300 million. 200 million of that came from China. So what does that say about the importance of the international markets and the future of that Hollywood-China relationship as it relates to the box office?

GEETHA RANGANATHAN: Yeah, "F9," I mean, the whole "Fast and Furious" franchise has really performed very, very well in overseas markets, especially in China, as you just pointed out. If you kind of just look at the franchise as a whole, about 70% of its ticket sales comes from overseas markets. So obviously, it's huge, absolutely huge. And China has always been a very, very critical market, not just for the "Fast and Furious" franchise, but for so many of the other franchises as well. You look at all the Marvel franchises. You get almost a good 20% to 30% of their box office sales from China.

So I think for all of the studios going forward, we are going to see that China is going to continue to play a very, very important role, especially as we have this overhang a little bit in the North American box office market from streaming, right? So streaming has just become such a pervasive phenomenon out here. The consumer has been trained to consume so much more content at home. But we're not necessarily seeing that in all overseas markets. So I think overseas continues to be more and more important for a lot of these franchises for that whole theatrical experience and the theatrical performance.

ALEXANDRA CANAL: And Geetha, you mentioned streaming, which, to me, seems to be one of the biggest risks to theaters. What other risks are there out there right now?

GEETHA RANGANATHAN: Yeah, so there are a lot of things that have happened during COVID. And you have to remember that attendance has been in secular decline. And so we have almost seen a 25% drop off in moviegoing attendance, even before the pandemic struck. And then with the pandemic, now you have the theatrical. The exclusive theatrical window has been cut by half. You have studios, just because of the whole situation, kind of sending a lot of their movies directly to streaming.

And so consumers have now really been trained to consume so much of content at home. So streaming, obviously, presents the biggest risk, but also, you have the risk of product, right? Not enough product actually reaching theaters. And a lot of these big media companies, Disney included, kind of trying to use movies as a way to rev up their streaming subscriber numbers, which is how they're kind of being judged from a valuation perspective, as well as from a media operating perspective.