What’s not to love? The films have Vin Diesel, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Paul Walker, Scott Eastwood, Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster. There’s illegal night-time street racing, heists, totally hunky action heroes, and tough hot babes. The basics are: Vin Diesel is Dominic Toretto, head of a crew (gang) that earns big money street racing and also by pulling off more than the occasional heist, often involving stealing cars from airplanes in mid-air or from a moving train. Brian O’Conner (originally played by the late Paul Walker and now by Scott Eastwood) is undercover cop turned Dom’s ally. He’s the one who ambushed and barrel rolled a prison bus in Fast Five. And there’s The Rock as Luke Hobbs, the villain agent out to capture the gang. “Whatever you do”, he said at one point, “don’t let them get into cars.” Good advice. After a wildly successful start in 2001’s The Fast and the Furious, there were definite problems with the next two films in the franchise; 2003’s 2 Fast 2 Furious and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift in 2006. Films four (Fast and Furious, 2009), five (Fast Five, 2011) and film six (Fast and Furious 6) steadily improved, with Fast Five introducing Dwayne Johnson, the nasty agent out to nab our good bad guys. Then the jaw-dropping Furious 7 in 2015. So, what’s the big draw? In a word: Cars. Those chases, races and mashups. Cars chasing airplanes. Cars flying over water to nail a boat. In between all the action there’s a little love going on with Letty Ortiz (played by Michelle Rodriguez) and Dom’s sister Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster). With an eighth film in the works, fans are counting the days to its 2017 release.
15. A Franchise That’s Worth Around $4 Billion And Growing
According to IMDb, Furious 7 is the only film in the franchise that reached $1 billion at the box office. And it claimed the record set by Avatar and became the fastest movie to gross over that magic $1 billion mark. As the franchise has grown, increasing amounts of revenues have come from outside the US. The total worldwide box office for the seven movies is just under $4 billion, with around 75 percent of that coming from foreign markets. According to Forbes, Fast and Furious is Universal Studios’ biggest franchise ever. With Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson being busy, busy guys, holding onto them as leads is crucial. If Universal can manage that, we predict that the sky’s the limit.
14. They Have A Car Graveyard?
Well, yes. Kind of. According to The Wall Street Journal, 230 cars were destroyed in Furious 7 alone. And we all know that those police cars sustain a lot more damage than Vin and his crew’s cars (with some exceptions). Before the crash scenes, the cars were totally tricked out with special safety equipment so that the stunt drivers would be unharmed. So, what happens after the crash, accident or smash? Now there are Fast and Furious fans out there who would kill to get their hands on one of the wrecked cars, so they can restore them and do a Vin Diesel. No way, insurers say. And the movie makers are required to crush the cars into nondescript balls so that eager Vin Diesel wannabees are safe.
13. Let’s Throw Some Cars From A Plane In Furious 7
It’s okay, it’s wearing a parachute. Plus, when they were pushed out of a C-130, they were followed by real cameramen wearing wing-suits. Stunt legend Spiro Razatos is the brains and brawn behind some of the jaw-dropping special effects in the films. Forget CGI, he says. The throw of the cars from the plane scene in Furious 7 is beyond great. Business Insider reported that when one car landed, its parachute got caught up in an air pocket and was dragging the car towards the freeway. “I’m hearing over the radio the car is being dragged and it can’t stop,” said Razatos. “People were on motorcycles to get the car; jumping on the car with knives to cut the parachute”. Narrow escape.
12. Halfway Through Filming Trailer For Fast and Furious 8 Is Amazing
They released the halfway done trailer in July, at 2016’s Comic Con. It’s early days and definitive trailers will follow once filming is nearer to completion. But there are a few things we know: It is set in New York, with additional filming in Cuba and Iceland. And the old gang is back, with the addition of one or two newbies. Kurt Russell is the sinister covert agent type “Mr. Nobody”, who fans glimpsed briefly in the last film in 2015, and we’ve got Charlize Theron as the villain Cipher. And, following Paul Walker’s death in 2013, Scott Eastwood (son of Clint) will take on the role of Brian O’Conner. Eastwood, fresh from filming Suicide Squad, has said he would do a job that would make his friend Paul Walker proud. Even Helen Mirren has muscled her way onto the film in a role that is, well, unknown.
11. Is Vin Diesel In Or Out? And Stars That Were Almost In
After the success of the first movie The Fast and the Furious in 2001, fans wanted more. Then came 2 Fast 2 Furious in 2003. It’s no secret that Vin Diesel hated the script for 2 Fast 2 Furious, saying it sucked big time. So he said count me out. Paul Walker was on his own. Then came Tokyo Drift in 2006. Still no Vin, and the movie was the lowest earning of any of the franchise’s movies. The movie got such a bad reaction when it was first screened, Vin Diesel was persuaded to come back for a cameo role at the end. Finally, he was back for the next film Fast and Furious, in 2009. Way back in 2001, IMDb reports that when they were casting the first film, a whole host of stars auditioned for the part of Mia, Dom’s sister and Brian O’Conner’s (Paul Walker) love interest. Natalie Portman, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kirsten Dunst and Jessica Biel, all auditioned for the role. It eventually went to Jordana Brewster (Dallas).
10. The Guy Who Inspired Fast And Furious
Before Furious 7 when Dom Torretto sped/flew a car from one of Dubai’s Etihad Towers into another, there was Rafael Estevez, the Dominican daredevil from Washington Heights. Who? IMDb reports it all started with a 1989 article by reporter Kenneth Li, in Vibe magazine. Li had become friends with street racer Estevez. The guy was a legend in illegal car racing circles, winning a whole host of high-stake races and outrunning the cops by getting his tricked out Honda Civic up to 200 miles per hour. He now runs a garage in Queens, New York. These days, he says, his wife drives faster than him. Old racers never die. Look for a comeback or maybe even a role in the franchise. With all the hype for the films, it’s no surprise that Li and Estevez were called in for an interview in 2015. Now, Universal picked up the rights to develop the idea after the Vibe piece. The question is, who got how much?
9. The Great Prison Bus Rollover in Fast Five
In Fast Five, Dom is in prison and being transported by bus. Enter Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and Dom’s love Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), and some serious muscle cars. They veer and swerve and wrong foot the bus which does a pretty spectacular roll over a car. And, like a minor miracle, out steps Dom not much worse for the wear. It’s scenes like this one that keep fans glued to their seats and begging for more. When the series began in 2001, Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez were lovers on and off screen. Rodriguez later announced that she had experimented with both sexes. She told Entertainment Weekly that she had “gone both ways” and was the curious type.
8. No Driver’s License Could Be A Big Problem
Neither Michelle Rodriguez nor Jordana Brewster had a driving license prior to working on the films. “Curious” Rodriguez has since been caught for DUI and speeding. She has said that the training she got for the film was probably as far away from a safe driving course as you can get. Blame it on the movie, judge. When she was cast in The Fast and the Furious in 2001, she was totally happy, as it was her first Hollywood film. She was Letty Ortiz, mean street racer and love of Dom Toretto. Only thing was, they wanted her to cheat on Dom with Brian (Paul Walker). Brian started out as an undercover cop, but later changes direction and becomes buds with Dom. No way, she said, would a self-respecting Latino girl cheat on the most alpha man on the planet with the cute guy. Vin backed her up. Maybe it was because she called him the ultimate alpha male. The Rock will have something to say, for sure.
7. The Time Line And Tokyo Drift
There is so much that is confusing in the franchise. The titles of the movies are sometimes Fast and Furious, sometimes just Fast and sometimes just Furious. That aside, the timeline is like a Star Wars adventure, with the third film, 2006’s The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift’s storyline happening after the storyline of the fourth, fifth and sixth movies. So, the bad guy killed off in Tokyo Drift comes back for the next film because he isn’t dead yet. Got it? Another interesting thing about Tokyo Drift is you’re not allowed to film in Tokyo, so the cast and crew went undercover, but were eventually busted. Let’s get back to the timeline. No. Forget it.
6. Franchise Viagra, The Rock, And That Train Heist In Fast Five
IMDb reports that The Rock was cast in the series after Vin Diesel asked his fans on Facebook for story ideas. Bring on The Rock, they said. And did they ever. The role of agent Luke Hobbs which premiered in Fast Five, was originally intended for Tommy Lee Jones. The movie has a killer train heist that involves stealing a car from a moving train. It was shot without CGI because car enthusiasts wanted to see the real deal. And in the scene when the flatbed truck hits the train and nearly derails it, you can totally believe it’s real because it is. The train heist alone cost $25 million, including buying a stretch of railway in Mexico and a real train to blow up. The Rock is nicknamed “franchise Viagra” and he certainly played a large role in reviving what had been a flagging franchise.
5. The 30 Mile Long Runway In Fast and Furious 6
Most of the movies in the series are marked by the appearance of a new villain. And occasionally new agents make an appearance. In Fast and Furious 6, the new bad guy is Owen Shaw, a former British officer turned mercenary who it seems is nicking military hardware. As the story unfolds, it appears Letty Ortiz had been a part of Shaw’s crew and is reportedly dead. In comes agent Luke Hobbs and says to Dom, take out Shaw in exchange for finding out what happened to Letty. Of course, he does it and Dom and Brian hit London. The best action sequence? No doubt, the 20 minute finale where Dom’s guys take down a cargo plane in a sequence that goes on forever. It goes on for so long that some experts have said the runway the plane was on would have been nearly 30 miles long.
4. Paul Walker’s Death Halfway Through Shooting Furious 7
It stunned and saddened the whole cast and crew when a car accident took the 40-year old’s life in 2013. He was being driven by his friend Roger Rodas, who was at the wheel of his 2005 Porsche Carrera GT. The filmmakers were faced with a decision. Should they scrap the film or go ahead? In the end they went ahead. IMDb reported that extreme measures had to be employed. Filmmakers took dialogue and footage from previous Fast and Furious films. In one scene where Brian O’Conner (Walker) is talking with Mia, footage from Fast Five was used. Body doubles, including his brothers Caleb Walker and Cody Walker, were also used, and extensive CGI effects were employed as well. At the end of the film, Dom and Brian are riding down the highway together one last time. A nice tribute, we think.
3. Forget The CGI Man, Use Cars
Car and movie fans were upset by the series’ use of CGI instead of the real thing. That was part of the problem with 2 Fast 2 Furious. Hence the use of Spiro Razatos and the dramatic train heist, the thrilling cars from the plane scene, and the vault being dragged down the street in Rio. Also, Paul Walker had insisted on the real thing as well. And Fast 8 has promised to live up to his expectations. As Vin Diesel said, the tribute to Walker in Furious 7 was for Walker, but the use of stuntmen and real stunts in Fast 8 is from Paul Walker. His idea. In his films, he had even performed some of his own stunts. And the approach employed in Furious 7 worked big time, as it is one of the highest grossing movies of all time.
2. Location, Location, Location
A lot of the action in past films has taken place in and around Los Angeles and into Mexico. In Fast 8, you’ll get New York. Well, sort of New York. Some action sequences had to be taken elsewhere. You also get an amazing car chase in Iceland and more car chases in Cuba. We don’t know, but perhaps this time we have South American drug lords to contend with? Previous films have gone to Dubai, Rio, London, Tokyo and Miami. It’s part of the appeal. Apparently, certain of the chase scenes which were meant to be in London in Fast and Furious 6 were actually filmed elsewhere in the UK, in cities that are not as congested as in London. Well, Dom and his Dodge Charger can go anywhere. Try and stop him. No word on setting for films 9 and 10.
1. When In Doubt, Do A Theme Park
Furious 7 catapulted the franchise into the stratosphere. It made over $1 billion at the box office and became the fastest film to earn $1 billion. So the folks at Universal, known for movies and theme parks, decided why not a theme park ride that gives fans a taste of a street race through L.A. at dangerously high speeds. Plus, most of the cast of the franchise was involved in the creation of the ride, suitably titled “Fast & Furious Supercharged”. Vin Diesel called the ride “immortal”. It is good clean fun. With green screen action doing the work, you’ll really believe Vin Diesel jumped out of a car to catch a passing helicopter. Reportedly, the actors did some voiceovers for the ride. Hit the freeway.