Themed entertainment is a like a shark or a relationship – it has to keep moving forward or it has to die. Today, September 8, 2015, marks the day that Universal officially leaves its past behind. Disaster!: A Major Motion Picture Ride Starring You, is closing to make way for a Fast and Furious themed ride. It’s closure marks the definitive end of the park’s original intentions, for better and for worse.
Fast and Furious
The Fast and Furious series has been a sleeping giant for Universal Pictures, growing from a modestly successful franchise into a cultural juggernaut over the course of a decade. And like other cultural juggernauts owned or licensed by Universal, the increasingly wacky adventures of Dominic Toretto and his family eventually jumped into the theme park realm. Fast and Furious: Supercharged made its debut at Universal Studios Hollywood earlier this year and it was just announced that the ride is heading to the studio’s Florida park. But it’s going to have to be very different and that is what has us interested.
Breaking news: people all over the world really like fast cars, movie stars, and constant references to family. Related: Furious 7 has just become the third highest grossing movie of all time, overtaking 2012’s The Avengers.
From high-speed car chases to…high-speed motorcycle chases. Furious 7 and Fast and Furious 6's director of photography is revving up to make his very own directorial debut, but as the saying goes, stick with what you know. And that’s what Stephen Windon is doing with Full Throttle, the upcoming action flick which replaces fast cars with fast bikes.
With seven movies under its belt, it’s about time the wildly popular and hugely beloved Fast and Furious franchise got its own ride at Universal Studios. Fast and Furious: Supercharged is set to debut this summer, and this behind the scenes video gives you a sneak peek at the new attraction with the help of Vin Diesel and the Fast and Furious #family.
Furious 7 almost certainly won’t be the last Fast & Furious movie. But at times it feels like a series finale. There are numerous callbacks and homages to the franchise’s entire 15-year history. The setpieces are bigger and crazier than ever; it’s hard to imagine anyone topping them. And before the chases really get rolling, the mood is often downright mournful. Two different scenes are set in graveyards, and characters talk about taking “one last ride” together.
Helen Mirren is an Oscar winner and a multi-time Golden Globe winner. She has a few Best Actress awards from the Cannes Film Festival, and a couple Emmys as well. She’s a Dame of the British Empire. As far as actors go, she is amongst the most respected in the entire world.
There are a lot of heroes in the Fast & Furious movies, but the unsung hero of the Fast & Furious movies is screenwriter Chris Morgan, who joined the franchise at its lowest point and helped transform a dying property about a couple of street racers into one of the most popular series (with one of the most cleverly complex mythologies) in all of Hollywood. It was Morgan’s idea to take the series international for The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, and to bring back the original franchise stars, Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, which happened in the fourth film, 2009’s Fast & Furious. Six years later, Furious 7 is primed to open in theaters, and even after the tragic passing of Walker in 2013, the series now shows no signs of slowing down. Diesel’s so confident in the movie that he’s already predicted it will win the Best Picture Oscar at next year’s Academy Awards (Morgan’s reaction when I asked if he wanted to double down on Diesel’s bet: “Uh ... [laughs] no comment.”)
Increasingly the Fast and Furious franchise has felt like a superhero franchise. A group of heroes with seemingly infinite strength and abilities taking on the bad guys and becoming a family in the process. It's like Avengers meets the Fantastic Four, but with a lot of cars. With the movies already up to Part 7 and Paul Walker sadly gone, the series can't go on forever. So, how do they continue the brand? Just like the superheroes do: with spinoffs.
In a few days it will finally arrive: Furious 7, the latest and biggest installment of the Fast & Furious franchise. And while the death of series star Paul Walker does put a damper on some of the excitement, this is still a great time to celebrate one of Hollywood’s most reliable and inventive franchises. In 15 years, Fast & Furious has evolved from a simple B-movie about a couple of street racers to an international crime epic spanning multiple continents and dozens of characters.