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With the spirit of Paul Walker blitzing through the hearts of nearly every movie fan in the world, Furious 7 has sped its way to a new box office record.

Reports Variety:

“Furious 7″ raced to the top of the domestic box office, picking up a massive $143.6 million in its opening weekend.

That establishes a new high-water mark for the month of April, blowing past the $95 million debut of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” as well as marks the highest grossing kick-off for any film in the “Fast and Furious” franchise. It also ranks ninth among the top ten openings in history.

Audiences flocked to see star Paul Walker in one of his final roles. The actor died in a 2013 car crash at the age of 40 and his work on the film was completed by using digital technology and a series of stand-ins.

“This is a bittersweet installment 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 installments. It raised awareness and its success is a tribute to him.”

Universal Pictures spared no expense in bringing the latest chapter in the fast cars and gravity-defying-stunts series to the big screen, shelling out $190 million on the production. It unspooled in 4,003 North American theaters, earning $14 million on 365 Imax screens and $11.5 million from premium large format screens. Going into the weekend, most analysts estimated that the film would open in the $115 million range.

“This is the next member of the billion dollar club and that’s a rarefied place to be,” said Contrino. “This thing is on fire.”

Furious 7 is in theaters now and will likely stay that way throughout the summer. Don’t get caught sleeping behind the wheel.

Photo: Universal Pictures

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