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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Fast & Furious

'Fast and Furious' 6 and 7 may speed into production together

October 21, 2011 | 11:09 am

EXCLUSIVE: Eager to move ahead with new installments of what's currently the studio's hottest series, Universal Pictures is considering shooting its sixth and seventh "Fast and Furious" movies back-to-back with a single story connecting the two films.

Screenwriter Chris Morgan, who wrote the last three films, is busy working on story ideas while director Justin Lin, who also worked on the last three "Fast" movies, is expected to return behind the cameras for both films, according to people familiar with the studio’s plans but not authorized to discuss them publicly.

Universal already has penciled in a May 24, 2013, release for “Fast and the Furious 6,” but the consecutive shooting schedule may result in a later launch, as Lin would be shooting the seventh film before he could edit the sixth. By making the two movies together, the seventh film could be in theaters sooner than the typical two-year gap between the Vin Diesel movies.

The idea of shooting multiple films has been tried (and has succeeded) before. Recent examples include “Back to the Future,” whose first and second  sequels were filmed consecutively, as were the second and third “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies.  Peter Jackson shot all three “Lord of the Rings” films in one epic swoop, a pattern he is following with his two “Hobbit” films, due Dec. 14, 2012, and Dec. 13, 2013.

Paramount Pictures is also considering shooting the fourth and fifth "Transformer" movies together, according to a report in Variety.

Such combined production schedules can significantly reduce the combined cost of the two films and also minimize scheduling and staffing issues, as the lead cast and filmmakers essentially work on one longer production rather than coordinating their calendars to reassemble two separate times.

Universal's potential "Fast and the Furious" strategy would represent a risk for the studio, as it already would have invested hundreds of millions to make a seventh movie before knowing if the sixth was a hit.

The "Fast and Furious" franchise, which began in 2001, almost died with 2006's modest performer "Fast and the Furious 3" before revving back with 2009's fourth installment and this year's hit "Fast Five," which grossed $624 million worldwide.

A Universal spokeswoman declined to comment.


When can we expect the sixth film in the 'Fast and Furious' franchise?

Why 'Fast Five' isn't 3-D

-- John Horn and Ben Fritz

Photo: Elsa Pataky and Vin Diesel in "Fast Five." Credit: Universal Pictures

When can we expect the sixth film in the 'Fast & Furious' franchise?

May 10, 2011 | 12:57 pm

Fast Almost immediately after "Fast Five" posted the biggest opening weekend at the box office of any film this year, the obvious question in Hollywood became: "So, how soon can we expect a sixth movie?"

As it turns out, the answer depends on which player involved in the franchise featuring souped-up cars  you ask. But the financial incentives are high. Consider that "Fast Five" has already raked in $140 million in North America in just over two weeks and is a blockbuster overseas, where it could hit the $200-million mark within days. (For more thoughts on why the "Fast" movies are so successful, check out this Monday Calendar story.)

Not surprisingly, Universal Pictures -- which has fewer big franchises than most other studios -- seems ready to churn out another "Fast" movie. Studio Chairman Adam Fogelson said "everyone involved in the franchise is proud not only of the business result, but of the product on screen, and everyone involved wants to do it again."

And Neal Moritz, who has produced all five "Fast" films, said he would "be surprised if we didn't do" another film. He added that after changing genres from underground car-racing to heist in the fifth installment, the sixth film would probably move on to another genre, which he declined to identify, and would hit theaters in April 2013.

One person less certain about his future involvement in the franchise, however, is director Justin Lin, who has helmed the last three "Fast" movies. Before signing on to direct "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" in 2003, Lin was best known as an indie director whose film "Better Luck Tomorrow" was well-received at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival.

Speaking from Taipei, Taiwan, after "Fast Five" premiered there last week, Lin said he had yet to decide whether he would return for another film, or move back to the world of independent filmmaking.

“I’m going to head back to L.A. in two days, and I have six projects sitting in front of me, from huge tentpole movies to smaller things,” he said. “I want to see another [‘Fast’ film]. I want the journey to continue. But I take it very seriously. And I would have to ask a big question: ‘Why would we make another one? What would it be?’ If neither of those things are answered, I shouldn’t be a part of it. I have to be excited, because you get up at 4 in the morning and there’s a lot to accomplish.”

Paul Walker, who has starred in four of the five "Fast" movies, said he would return for a sixth film only if Lin was on board. Actor Vin Diesel, on the other hand, seemed eager to begin production on a new chapter in the franchise.

"I didn't start production on 'Fast Five' until the studio proved they had the treatment for a sixth film," said Diesel, who now serves as a producer on the films as well. "When I returned to the franchise for the fourth film, I envisioned a trilogy following."


'Fast Five': In the fast lane

Universal soups up its 'Fast and Furious' franchise

'Thor' a pretty super box-office warrior

-- Amy Kaufman


Photo: Paul Walker, left, and Vin Diesel star in "Fast Five." Credit: Universal Pictures

Seven pieces of conventional wisdom disproved by 'Fast Five'

May 2, 2011 |  7:30 am


To get an idea of what Vin Diesel's "Fast Five" pulled off this weekend, consider this: In the three days just passed, the action movie took in about $140 million around the world -- more than 2010 award-season hit "The Fighter" and nearly as much as fall blockbuster "The Town" grossed over their lifetimes.

At first glance, this may not seem like that huge a deal: The Diesel-Paul Walker picture is just one more commercial offering with big explosions that drew us to theaters, as so many have done before. But in reversing the box-office slump this weekend (with $83.6 million tallied in the U.S. alone), "Fast Five" subverted a number of Hollywood assumptions about how and why we go to movies. Here's a rundown:

Traditional action and heist movies only hold so much appeal. Sure, "The Expendables" got us a little excited last summer. But when it comes to commercial filmmaking, it's vampires, comic books and cartoons that pack 'em in these days. Dominic Toretto shows us otherwise.

Franchises lose steam after their third installment. Hollywood thinks in threes for a reason. With few exceptions, most movies run out of gas after their third edition. Not this time. "Fast & Furious," the fourth movie in the franchise, nearly tripled the opening-weekend number of the third picture when it opened to $71 million two years ago. "Fast Five" did it $13 million better.

New directors can't turbocharge a flagging franchise. Justin Lin was actually the third director on the Universal series, after Rob Cohen ("The Fast & the Furious") and John Singleton ("2 Fast 2 Furious"). And Lin, as a purveyor of mainly little-seen Sundance movies, is not a terribly well-known director at that. Lin went on to revive not only the "Fast" franchise but also his own career -- he's set to direct "Terminator 5"  as well.

Hit franchises must bring out the stars. Most successful properties come with A-listers; think "Pirates" and Depp, "Bourne" and Damon, "Iron Man" and Downey. But "Fast & Furious" has had a revolving door of actors, and they're hardly top names. Yet it hasn't hurt one bit. What has helped, at least this weekend: a racially diverse cast that includes Diesel, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Gal Gadot, Sung Kang and Tego Calderon.

Don't mess with a title. Add Tokyo, take away Tokyo. Use numbers, don't use numbers. They're furious, they're not furious. The speedster franchise keeps changing its name, but that doesn't seem to hurt it at all.

Don't change genres after you've established a brand. "Fast & Furious" began as a street-racing vehicle. The fifth movie retained the chases but added a significant heist element.

People aren't going to movies as much as they used to. Coming into this weekend, 2011 had been a slack year for filmgoing. The biggest opener didn't even make it to $40 million. The question now is whether "Fast Five" is an exception or a trendsetter.


"Fast Five" races to the front of the pack

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: A poster for "Fast Five." Credit: Universal Pictures


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