FAST & FURIOUS 6
All Roads Leads to This... Production Begins
Fast Five's unexpected take on Dom, Brian and
their extended family pulling off a daring multimillion
dollar heist with a hardnosed federal agent hot on their trail was the ultimate thrill ride for audiences in April
2011. The film debuted domestically to $86 million
during its opening weekend and set a record best for
Universal Pictures. Not only was it the highest-grossing
film for that weekend in motion picture history, it
bumped the previous entry, Fast & Furious -- with its
$70.9 million opening in 2009 -- to the No. 2 spot for
April record breakers.
Fast & Furious reinvigorated the series with beloved
characters and an engaging storyline that hearkened
back to its roots, and the action-thriller built upon that
winning formula by injecting new heroes and elements
into the storyline. Introducing Dwayne Johnson as Luke
Hobbs upped the stakes for our crew of antiheroes and
expanding the scope of the film's action proved to be
an irresistible combination that electrified audiences,
new and old alike. More importantly, the film stoked
the flames of anticipation for die-hard fans who have
been invested in the saga for more than a decade.
The filmmaking team of director Justin Lin and
producers Neal H. Moritz, Vin Diesel and Clayton
Townsend build on the worldwide box-office success
of Fast Five and take the action, stunts, narrative and
emotion to even greater heights with this installment.
The proven blueprint of family, loyalty, fast cars and
hard-driving action -- whether it's
behind the wheel of a souped-up muscle
car racing for pink slips or avenging the
loss of a loved one -- has cemented the
franchise as one of the most successful
in box-office history.
Lin, an admitted perfectionist, was
heartened by the thunderous reaction
to Fast Five. "It was very rewarding
to see the way that Fast Five has been
embraced," he reflects. "The great thing
about being part of the Fast franchise
is that ever since I joined on Tokyo
Drift, Vin, Neal and I always discussed
backstory, character and mythology. In many ways, Fast & Furious 6 was already planned...
we just had to earn it. We worked hard to get here; this
is something that we built together, and it is not by
accident or a fluke."
It's been more than a decade since The Fast and
the Furious introduced audiences to Los Angeles'
gritty underground street-racing scene, and with each
subsequent chapter, the stakes have grown higher with
compelling storylines and the introduction of new
characters. The film, and ultimately the franchise, has
tapped into the global appeal of modern-day heroes
who drive fast cars and deliver big action while eluding
the authorities and taking care of their loved ones.
In Hollywood, producing a sixth installment in a
blockbuster franchise is an enviable (and rare) position.
Moritz, a veteran producer who, in addition to the Fast
& Furious series, has a diverse roster of box-office hits,
lauds Lin for his ability to consistently harness story,
action and a large ensemble cast with seeming ease. He
commends: "It would have been very difficult to make
this movie without Justin. He's got an incredible work
ethic and a tremendous amount of patience, which you
need with so many moving parts. As the commander in
chief, he was able to hold it together, do a tremendous
job and deliver the most exciting film to date."
Neither the filmmakers nor Universal executives
could quite expect the fans' explosive reaction to the
revelation of Letty Ortiz's survival at the end of Fast
Five. The surprise one-minute coda between Johnson's
Hobbs and Eva Mendes' 2 Fast 2 Furious customs
agent Monica Fuentes was enough to get audiences
buzzing, but the shocking reveal itself had filmgoers
applauding and ready for more.
Letty's apparent death in Fast & Furious was
a jolt to audiences. In particular, fans of the fiercely
independent Latina were thrilled to have Michelle
Rodriguez back in the fourth installment. Truly, the
return of Letty for this chapter was the result of a
groundswell that came from audiences themselves.
Appealing to the studio and filmmakers to bring their
beloved heroine back to the series, loyal fans sent
a flurry of correspondence to Universal executives
and the producers. The orchestrated campaign by the
moviegoers reinforced the filmmakers' belief that there
should be authentic, organic interaction with those who
have supported the movies over the years.
Although fans were beyond eager for Letty to
return, it was quite an unexpected turn of events for
Rodriguez, who originated the role in The Fast and the
Furious and returned for Fast & Furious. "I found out
about the tease at the end of Fast Five when I went to
see the film," Rodriguez recalls. "I was vacationing in
Paris and went to see it in a French movie theater, and
there it was at the end. I was excited by it all
because Fast Five was so amazing, and there
was a very real possibility of bringing me
back to do Fast & Furious 6. I keep joking
with Vin that he should have given me at
least a little bit of a heads-up!"
Only then did a months-earlier, cryptic
conversation with Diesel make sense to the
actress. However, Diesel was contemplative
about revisiting the Dom-Letty storyline,
which was years in the making. He provides:
"I knew when I came back as a producer that
there was equity in the Dom-Letty relationship. This
relationship had spoken to people and was not like one
we had seen before, so we had to explore it."
The Fast Five postscript rivaled the response to
Diesel's cameo in Tokyo Drift, which jumpstarted the
next chapter and, ultimately, the series. Lin's initial
meeting with Diesel to pitch that scene morphed into
a marathon discussion about the characters, their
backstories and potential storylines. Both Lin and
Diesel share a passion for character-driven stories, so
it was a logical progression for the pair to delve deeper
into the franchise's mythology.
Lin shares: "That idea of mythology got Vin excited.
We started discussing how to create mythology and how
Han and Dom were linked up and that set everything
off. One of the most exciting things was going there
and being able to articulate what I wanted to achieve.
Vin and I talk a lot, and it's something that I appreciate.
It's a process that we thrive on because we both take a
lot of pride in how we build our films. Fast & Furious
6 truly is a completion of everything that we had talked
about. It has come full circle."
Diesel, who has long served as one of the series'
guardians, concurs: "The most exciting part of it was
that we were going to be able to treat this not only
as an action film, but with as much story as we do.
It's gratifying to be able to look back and to see how
every thing links up. When you see Fast & Furious 6, you'll want to go back and re-watch the pre vious
films. When you can answer questions and shed light
on scenes in previous movies, when you can promise
something in the future...that's cool film making. The
best example is when a saga and its audience can play
off of one another, and that's exactly what we've done."
Screenwriter Chris Morgan, who has made his mark
with action-driven fare, enthusiastically participated in
extended dialogue with Diesel and Lin over the past
seven years. Beginning with Fast & Furious, they
wanted to expand relationships and potential plots to
propel the subsequent chapters. Diesel was adamant
from the start about maintaining a multi-film arc,
so Morgan kept that in mind and has taken a design
approach thematically to frame it that way.
Morgan remarks that it is gratifying to see it all
bridge together: "I love constructing intricate narratives
and being able to find the places where the pieces fit.
The fact that Tokyo Drift doesn't happen chronologically
in the film order, but to be able to determine where it
goes -- and for it all to make sense -- is a fun puzzle to
put together. The last three films had a very purposeful
thematic arc regarding the loss of love and the loss of
home...and how far our team would go to get them back.
In the fourth film, Dom lost the love of his life and the
entire crew was forced to go on the run, abandoning
everything they once knew. In the
fifth film, our team hit a low point and
really felt the absence of both, living as
fugitives on the run...until the end when
they learn that Letty might still be alive.
Now, in the sixth film, we get to see the
extent to which our heroes will go to get
back everything they lost -- specifically
Letty -- and the ability to return home as
free men and women."
Alongside Clayton Townsend, who
rejoins the series after serving as an
executive producer on Tokyo Drift, the
behind-the-scenes crew was ready to
roll. Reflects the producer: "It's a privilege to rejoin the
team at this time, as this episode dovetails so beautifully
into the rest of the films. We've long explained that
the movies were not released in sequential order, but
all those pieces will be revealed. It will be quite an
experience to sit in theaters on opening day and watch
die-hard Fast fans get the surprise of their lives."
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