The fate of the “Fast and the Furious” franchise is sealed – we’ll be getting even more sequels in the unstoppable race car series thanks to this blockbuster weekend.

The eighth installment, “The Fate of the Furious” starring Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson and Charlize Theron, had the biggest global opening in movie history over Easter weekend with $532 million, including $98.8 million from the U.S. and Canada, and $433.2 million internationally, Universal revealed on Monday afternoon.

So what is it about a 16-year-old street racing franchise that’s still driving moviegoers into theater seats?  Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst at comScore, breaks it down for Moneyish.

New characters and actors like Charlize Theron helped drive sales. (©Universal Studios/courtesy Everett Collection)

  • It was huge in China. “The Fate of the Furious” made $192.1 million in China – more than double its North American haul – where it broke more records as the biggest three-day opening weekend and the biggest Hollywood opening of all time in the country. “China is the second-biggest movie market in the world,” Dergarabedian explained, noting that the country has also built up state-of-the-art theaters over the past five years. “Chinese audiences love the movie-going experience because they haven’t had this level of quality in the past, and this movie is tailor-made for that big-screen, movie-going experience.”
  • It was also huge on huge screens. “The Fate of the Furious” also raked in $31.1 million globally IMAX theaters, leaving numerous records in the dust. “It’s a popcorn movie pushed to the extreme with car chases, James Bond-style heists and more outlandish moments pushed to the max, perfect for a huge screen, and people around the world responded to it,” Dergarabedian said.
  • The franchise keeps things fresh. What started as a movie about street racers in Los Angeles has revved engines around the world by globetrotting onscreen, too. “Universal is very smart about keeping the core formula of a family of characters,” said Dergarabedian, “but over the years they’ve made the movies bigger, more outlandish and with more ‘oh my God’ moments; they’ve added new blood to the cast; and they keep the franchise exciting even though it’s been going for a decade and a half at this point.“
  • It’s assembled a diverse cast. “They were ahead of the curve with hiring a very diverse cast. These characters are a family, and they each bring special skills to the table, like superheroes.,” said Dergarabedian. “And each actor and character has their own following: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez. And [newcomer] Charlize Theron steals the show.”
  • People are seeing more movies. “The Fate of the Furious” is the latest in a string of blockbuster success stories this year, including “Beauty and the Beast,” which has made more than $1 billion. “There is something going on, because 2017 looks to be on track to be the biggest year ever at the box office,” said Dergarabedian. “In the first quarter, ‘Split,’ ‘Get Out,’ ‘Logan,’ ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ ‘The Fate of the Furios’ and ‘The Boss Baby’ have all done much better than anyone expected.” He suggested audiences are looking to escape the politically-charged reality today. “Also,” he added, “all of these movies have just been really, really good, and they’ve resonated strongly on social media.”