Wary of the story limitations put on a franchise the longer it runs, Universal Pictures is calling the latest installment in its 'Fast and Furious' machine, this weekend's hotly anticipated 'Fast Five,' a "transitional movie" because the studio is hoping it will carry the street-racing series into a new genre: the heist movie. The plot of 'Fast Five' reportedly sets up a sequel that will fall squarely into that territory.
Adam Fogelson, chairman of Universal Pictures, told Deadline, "The question putting 'Fast Five' and 'Fast Six' together for us was: Can we take it out of being a pure car culture movie and into being a true action franchise in the spirit of those great heist films made 10 or 15 years ago?"
The answer, it seems, was to give screenwriter Chris Morgan, the man behind the well-received Angelina Jolie–James McAvoy spy thriller 'Wanted,' a little bit of free reign to carve out the fifth and sixth films as part of his new production deal at Universal with an eye toward shaking the franchise up.
'Fast Five' begins the transition. Following Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as a federal agent tracking on-the-run Paul Walker and Vin Diesel, the film is much less about car culture than the previous films. "We've heard so many people say, 'I've never seen one, and I've never wanted to see one,' about the 'Fast' franchise," Fogelson said. "So if these movies were still about street racing, there was probably a ceiling on how many people would buy tickets. We wanted to see if we could raise it out of about racing and make car driving ability just a part of the movie, like those great chases in 'The French Connection,' 'The Bourne Identity,' 'The Italian Job.'"
The 'Fast' films have been a major cash cow for Universal, grossing nearly $490 million domestically and another $464 million overseas. The last film in the franchise, 2009's 'Fast and Furious,' is the series' biggest box office hit so far, and 'Fast Five' is already performing far better than expected in the select foreign markets it has already opened in, grossing $24 million out of the gate.
Messing with a sure thing is always a risk, but it looks like Universal has cooked up the right formula to keep its well-oiled 'Fast' franchise from running out of gas anytime soon.
Check out the 'Fast Five' trailer below: