Even so, many moviegoers said the final scenes of the new film, which earned a record $146 million
over the weekend, still packed an emotional wallop.
"Not gonna lie, I shed a few tears at the end of Furious 7. The tribute to Paul Walker was very well done," one woman said Monday on Twitter.
Hers was just one of a flood of messages on social media from people who said they got choked up during scenes featuring Walker, who died at 40 in a car crash in November 2013, before filming on "Furious 7" was completed. To finish Walker's scenes, the makers of the movie used body doubles, computer-generated images and even the actor's brothers.
But it was the ending that really got to moviegoers.
In finishing "Furious 7," the film's producers sought to retire Walker's character, Brian, while paying homage to his role in the blockbuster "Furious" action franchise. But they felt that killing him off might appear exploitative.
"If they had gone down the other path, I think I would have refused to finish making this movie," director James Wan told BuzzFeed
. Instead, the movie's makers chose to "retire Paul's character in the most sincere and elegant way (they) could," Wan said.
Their idea was to have Brian retire from his dangerous, high-octane lifestyle out of a sense of responsibility to his growing family with girlfriend Mia, who is pregnant with their second child.
A scene late in the movie shows him and Mia playing on a beach with their son while the crew looks on -- essentially saying goodbye. Then his longtime buddy Dom reminisces about their years together, leading to a montage of Walker scenes from the first six movies.
The song that plays over the montage is "See You Again," a collaboration between Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth. Co-star Vin Diesel shared the video for the song late Sunday on his Facebook page
, where it has more than 1.5 million likes.
Fans on Twitter and Facebook mostly praised the movie's ending as a fitting tribute -- and an emotionally wrenching one.
"Man I don't care how tough u are or how gangsta u claim to be . ...the last five minutes had me choked up in the movie theater ... I saw it 3 times in one day ... ...the ending is the deepest ending I've ever seen," one man wrote on the movie's Facebook page.