So much for going out while you’re still ahead… Vin Diesel and Universal are determined to squeeze every last cent in profit from the "Fast & Furious" franchise, which shouldn’t be a surprise.
Today’s news update on the franchise comes courtesy of Variety who report that Universal and Vin Diesel are exploring the possibility of "Fast & Furious" movie spin-offs as well as prequels. This news comes a couple of weeks after F. Gary Gray was named the director of the next "Furious" film, and Diesel shared that there would be at least 3 more movies in the franchise before it finally ends.
Taking a page from other franchises, like what Disney has planned for the "Star Wars" brand, Diesel had this to say: “We’ve written out story lines for various characters,… We’ve been playing with it for a long time. It’s a very rich property and we’re committed to treating it with a lot of class.”
Diesel didn’t share specifics, but Dwayne Johnson has hinted in the past that he’d like to see his character star in his own separate movies, so maybe that’s one possibility.
Universal Pictures Chairman Donna Langley added: “We’re certainly in conversations about how we can expand the franchise now… It’s an ensemble cast and there’s room to bring characters in and out.”
Jeff Shell, chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, chimed in: “Vin has a vision in his mind for three more, so let’s get three more done and then see where we are from there… Everything has an end, so I don’t think our expectation is we’re going to have a hundred of them. To me ‘Fast and Furious’ has become no different than a beloved series that comes on every year.”
It’s worth noting that Vin Diesel movies (specifically those he stars in) that are not of the "Fast & Furious" family, haven’t done very well. It’s as if fans only want to see him in that franchise, playing that character (Dominic Toretto) and not much else. Looking over box office stats for every movie he’s starred in, the list is dominated by "Fast & Furious" films. In fact, they make up the top 5 – again, films in which he starred, so I’m not counting "Saving Private Ryan," which he had a small role in (most probably don’t even remember that he was in that movie), nor am I counting "Guardians of the Galaxy" for which he voiced one of the computer generated characters. Beyond the "Fast & Furious" movies, the next top earner on the list is "XXX." But it doesn’t come close to the kind of box money that the top "Fast & Furious" movies have earned. Even the "Riddick" trilogy doesn’t compare. Take the box office for all 3 "Riddick" movies combined, and the number is less than half of what "Furious 7" made domestically, on its own.
His latest film, "The Last Witch Hunter" has already gone down as one of this year’s noteworthy flops – a $90 million movie that the studio, Lionsgate, likely hoped would become a franchise, earned lass than $27 million domestically. And even when you consider foreign box office, its total is still less than its budget (not including P&A costs either).
All that to say, I can see why he’d want to continue with the "Fast & Furious" franchise; it’s been huge financial winner for both him and the studio (compared to his other movies). His above quote, that it’s "a very rich property," is true (although he may have meant "rich" in terms of what could be done with it, given the numerous characters in it, and their own potential individual stories, as well as how universally loved the series is).
So get ready for the many "Fast & Furious" branches that will grow from here.