inspired by a real street racer
An article by Ken Li chronicles the exploits of Rafael Estevez, a local street racers of some notoriety in the New Jersey area. Director Rob Cohen reads it and is inspired to make a film about the street racing culture. The working title of this new film is “Redline.”
After test audiences view the film in October of 2000, the name is changed to “The Fast and The Furious,” a name derived from a 1955 movie.
The Cars are the Stars
Fast & Furious Pre-Production Begins
With a modest budget of $38M, Director Rob Cohen begins production preparation. “The cars are the stars,” he quips and Universal holds several Casting Calls for vehicles on the back lot of Universal Studios in Studio City, California.
We focused on the top of the tuner car hierarchy. Cars considered included the Supra, 300ZX, Acura NSX and Mitsubishi 3000GT.
This represented the first time a motion picture studio would rent cars from private owners rather than building them in-house. This was due to budget constraints.
The main cars would be rented from their owners, modified for the movie, then returned to their owners upon completion of production.
Movie Premiere June 18, 2001
The Hollywood Premiere At Westwood Village Theater
Again, working on a small budget, the premiere was set in a lessor known and more modest theater located not quite in Hollywood.
Many of the cast members were there as expected, but a few were not.
I personally attended this event and the reception of the audience was very good despite the fact that most members of the audience knew little to nothing about cars or the tuning culture.
The movie made back its entire production budget in the first weekend, bringing in $40,089,015.
Director John Singleton, takes the helm
2 Fast 2 Furious Begins Production
Once again, I’m asked to serve as Technical Advisor. As luck would have it, my R34 Skyline GT-R is cast in a leading role.
This picture has an $85M budget and will have more than 240 cars built by the Production Team.
Pre-production of the cars starts in El Segundo, California and continues in Miami (Hialeah) Florida.
Production Budget: ~ $76,000,000
2 Fast 2 Furious Premieres
2 Fast 2 Furious roars into theaters on June 3, 2003. With the absence of many of the first movie’s actors, the movie is not met with the same success. The movie grossed a paltry $236M globally. Vin Diesel did not come back because he was off pursuing films like the Riddick series and Triple xXx (Xander Cage). Triple xXx did well at the box office, but the Riddick movies did not. Vin smartly came back to The Fast and Furious franchise soon after.
Production Budget: $85,000,000
Tokyo Drift starts production with a whole new crew. Justin Lin takes the helm as Director and Dennis McCarthy becomes the Picture Car Captain. With the raging success of the first movies, they didn’t need my connections in the tuner industry so I was not invited back in my normal role, but I instead provided hundreds of “extras” cars for certain scenes.
car movies don't sell tickets. Action movies do.
Worst Performing Movie of the Franchise
Missing Paul Walker, Vin Diesel and all of the others stars that made the first two movies great, the movie did not perform well at the box office. It turned out to be the worst performer of the franchise, making just $158M domestically. Universal learned that action movies sell tickets, authentic car movies do not. This changed the direction of the franchise.
Production Budget: $85,000,000
Fast and Furious (aka FF4)
Most of the cast returns with a continuance of the story. By this time, Universal had keyed into the importance of the Latino audience and started a heavy push into incorporation of Latino actors. Although this really started in 2 Fast 2 Furious, by this installment, Universal had truly multiculturalized the franchise. It worked. This movie made $363M.
Production Budget: $125,000,000
While developing Universal deliberately departed from the street racing theme prevalent in previous films in the series, to transform the franchise into a heist action series involving cars. By doing so, they hoped to attract wider audiences that might otherwise be put off by a heavy emphasis on cars and car culture. Fast Five is considered the transitional film in the series, featuring only one car race and giving more attention to action set pieces such as gun fights, brawls, and the heist of $100 million.
The strategy worked and it broke box office records for the highest opening weekend box office take on its way to a $625M box office run.
Production Budget: $160,000,000
Fast & Furious 6
With Vin and his crew now living in hiding safe with their riches from the last movie, Hobbs is working on breaking up a huge plot and Letty has amnesia. Sounds like a soap opera, right? The same old story line reemerges in which the team can receive pardons if they just help catch the bad guy. Thin story line aside, the movie was a huge success and the movie made $789M globally.
Production Budget: $190,000,000
After defeating international terrorist Owen Shaw, Dom, Brian and the rest of the crew have separated to return to more normal lives. However, Deckard Shaw, Owen’s older brother, is thirsty for revenge. Universal brilliantly started inserting new characters using big name talent (ex. Gal Gadot, Jason Statham) and it has pumped new life into the franchise. This movie has been the highest grossing of the franchise so far, bringing in $1.5 BILLION in global box office sales.
Since Paul Walker died while the film was in production, his brother, Cody Walker filled in for him in the film’s final scene. This likely played a sizeable role in this movie’s box office numbers.
Production Budget: $250,000,000
The Fate of The Furious
The Fate of the Furious marks the first installment in the franchise since Tokyo Drift (2006) not to feature both Paul Walker, who died in a single-vehicle crash during the filming of Furious 7 (2015) on November 30, 2013, and Jordana Brewster. Script rewrites to the seventh installment after Walker’s death were intended to complete the story arcs for both of their characters (Brian O’Conner and Mia Toretto, respectively).
For many, this is where the series “jumped the shark.” Nuclear submarines, torpedoes chasing cars over terrain pushed the series into Michael Bay fantasy territory. Critics agreed, but fans did not. The movie grossed $1.2B, despite the absence of Paul Walker.
SO WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE FRANCHISE?
The Fast and Furious has been a wildly successful franchise, with earnings approaching $6 billion as of late 2018. These numbers represent only global box office sales as no data is publicly available regarding merchandise sales or other revenue streams, such as product placement or product licensing.
With a ninth and tenth installment on the horizon, these numbers will surely grow.
Director, ``The Fast and The Furious``
Director, ``2 Fast 2 Furious``
Director, ``Tokyo Drift,````Fast Four,`` ``Fast Five,`` ``Fast 6,`` ``Fast 9`` and ``Fast 10``