ENTERTAINMENT

‘Furious 7’ box office take-over: Hispanics lead pack to see final Paul Walker film

This photo provided by Universal Pictures shows, from left, Tyrese Gibson as Roman, Michelle Rodriguez as Letty, Paul Walker as Brian, and Chris Ludacris as Tej, in a scene from "Furious 7."  (AP Photo/Universal Pictures, Scott Garfield)

This photo provided by Universal Pictures shows, from left, Tyrese Gibson as Roman, Michelle Rodriguez as Letty, Paul Walker as Brian, and Chris Ludacris as Tej, in a scene from "Furious 7." (AP Photo/Universal Pictures, Scott Garfield)

The highly anticipated “Furious 7” sped to the top of the box office in its opening weekend, picking up a franchise-best $384 million at the global box office, including a record-setting $143.6 million domestically for the month of April.

It’s the fourth-best opening of all time.

While the mega-opening weekend was partially tied to audience interest in star Paul Walker, who died in a car crash in Nov. 2013 before the film was completed, analysts believe the diversity of the cast influenced moviegoers even more.

According to Universal, 75 percent of the audience in North America was non-Caucasians, with Hispanics leading the pack.

Hispanics made up 37 percent of ticket buyers, followed by Caucasians at 25 percent and African-Americas at 24 percent. Asians made up 10 percent of ticket buyers, while 4 percent fell under “other,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The numbers don’t lie: Moviegoers seem to want to see themselves represented on the silver screen.

Alex Nogales, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, told Fox News Latino in 2013 that the Hispanic community is “hungry for stuff that is about (them)” and they will flock to these movies.

Experts agree.

“The importance of diversity of the ensemble cast in the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise has been an integral part of the success of the brand,” said Rentrak box office analyst Paul Dergarabedia, according to THR.

“There is literally someone within the cast that is relatable on some level to nearly every moviegoer around the world, and this has paid dividends at the box office and also in terms of how cast decisions will be made in the future for these types of large-scale action epics,” he continued.

The “Furious 7” stars Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson, Jordana Brewster, Christopher “Ludacris” Bridges, martial artist Tony Jaa, Djimon Hounsou and the late Paul Walker.

Dergarabedia said there is no other film franchise that is as ethnically diverse in Hollywood.

“These films pushed the boundaries of traditional action movie motifs and created a world unto itself,” Dergarabedia told The Associated Press. “Their international locales and diverse cast made them a truly global phenomenon.”

Universal president of domestic distribution Nicholas Carpou couldn’t agree more.

“Someone that I admire quite a lot recently said this is a franchise that really looks like America, and there are characters that everyone can relate to. I think that’s big plus,” he said.

Carpou said the death of the film’s star Walker, who died in a car crash in Nov. 2013, was also a motivator to see the film, but “it’s not by any means the prime motivator see the movie.”

“It probably created some curiosity, but, at the same time, (the film) fits so well with the overall continuing saga of the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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