How FAST AND FURIOUS Created Modern Car Culture | Donut Media


– I’ll have the tuna. – No crust? – No crust. (driving synth music) – Whoo! – [Host] The “Fast and Furious” franchise has grossed over five billion dollars at the box office worldwide, putting it in the same league as
movies like “The Avengers”, “James Bond”, and “Star Wars”. So how did a cheesy B-movie
about stealing DVD players, which critics called “a
career killing skid mark” and “the lame and laborious” capture the world’s heart, and become one of the biggest
franchises of all time? Today on Wheelhouse, we’re talking about one of my favorite movies ever: The Fast and the Furious. (piano music) – Before we dive in, I wanna thank Fixd for sponsoring this episode. Now, back to the movie. Looking at the success of
the Fast and Furious series, it’s wild that the first movie got greenlit in the first place. Director Rob Cowen got the idea for the Fast and the Furious after reading a magazine article. Ken Lee wrote a piece about the budding import tuner scene called Racer X. It detailed real-life street
racers in Upper Manhattan. That article inspired
Cowen to make the film. And Universal bought
the rights to the story. If you’ve never watched the trailer for “The Fast and the Furious”, I highly recommend you do. There’s no mention of a plot, you’ve got Limp Bizkit, explosions, dirt bikes, sweet cars, and they spoiled the very end of the movie. It’s the most 2001 thing I’ve ever seen. How do you not wanna watch this? I’ve seen this movie maybe fifteen times, and I’m stoked to watch
it again right now. – Let’s go for a little ride. – Go! (heavy rock music) – [Host] “The Fast and the
Furious” opened on June 21, 2001. To say its critical reception was lukewarm would be a compliment. Some reviews appreciated what is was, a guilty pleasure with high stakes action. But other critics pointed
out the wooden acting, and called it “fast food for the eyes.” – Nice car. What’s the retail on one of those? – More than you can afford, pal. Ferrari. – Look, I’ll admit, no
one was gonna win an Oscar for this movie, but
that didn’t stop people from checking it out. One reason “The Fast and the Furious” was successful was timing. The only competition at the
box office opening weekend was “Doctor Doolittle 2”, the one where the bear goes doo-doo in a potty. (fart noise) – Oh! Oh! – [Host] When given
the choice between that and cars flying through the air, summer audiences came in droves
to check out this car movie. The trailer didn’t lie. People wanted fast cars doing sweet stunts and they got it in spades. Letty’s Civic really did
drive under that semi. They really wrecked Dom’s Charger. They strapped the actor who played Vince to the side of a semi. Even though it was ridiculous, it somehow felt real, and
it definitely felt intense. “The Fast and the Furious” netted over a hundred and forty
million at the box office. Universal got the hint. People wanted more. The world that “Fast and the
Furious” was released into was different than the one we live in now. It was three months before
the September 11th attacks, and nearly a decade before
social media took over as the world’s biggest news source. World events aside, the world of cars was way different back then as well. And “The Fast and the Furious”
was about the changing. It was a movie for car people, by people who knew almost
nothing about cars. How could that work? Anyone watching would know that a computer blinking the words, “Danger to manifold” doesn’t make sense. And neither does blowing
the floor pan off a car. (intense beeping) – Shut up! – [Host] But car people didn’t
have anywhere else to go. Those mistakes have
become what people love about this movie. – And Hector is gonna be running three Honda Civics with spoon engines. – (singing) Make it natural. Integration. He could have used the Fixd
mechanic hotline service that provides unlimited access to an ASC certified mechanic, on their team for anything you need. Fixd mechanics are on your side to help you with all your car questions. Ding! Advertising. Now back to the movie. So how did a movie riddled with errors and plot holes become the
phenomenon it is today? It grew its own audience. (chiming beats) – Tuner culture, which revolved around modifying Japanese compacts was in its infancy in 2001. The only people involved
in the tuner scene were the true believers, the
people modding their own cars and usually racing them on the weekend, either on the track, or on the street. So what does this have to do with “The Fast and the Furious”? One word. SEMA. And every year, they’d have a
huge convention in Las Vegas called the SEMA Show. You might have heard of it. At the show, tons of aftermarket brands show off their new stuff and some of the best builds in the country. Not only is the aftermarket in attendance, but bigwigs from Detroit are there to scope out the trends
and incorporate them into their own mainstream products. Once the movie came
out and was a huge hit, popularity of Brian O’Conner style Eclipse and super builds exploded. And people started bringing
them to SEMA en masse. Those same industry bigwigs saw these cars at the show and thought,
hmm, there might be something to letting people customize
their car their way. This paved the way for brands like Scion, whose entire pitch to consumers was that they could build
one how they wanted to. While white, black, and silver are the most popular paint options, more and more OEMs are
offering bolder colors, in no small part thanks to
“The Fast and Furious” series. Since the first “Fast and
Furious” made so much money, Universal knew they couldn’t
not release a sequel. “2 Fast 2 Furious” came
out two years later to even worse critical reception. But it still made over 236
million in ticket sales. Impressive, but nowhere near
the one point five billion the current ones are raking in. Before the franchise could
reach its full potential, it had to hit rock bottom. Like when I got kicked
out of northern Arizona, and had to go to community college. It’s not really rock bottom. It was actually the best thing
that ever happened to me, but, this isn’t in the script. This is real. “Tokyo Drift” had a budget
of eighty-five million, and none of the original cast. It bombed. In its opening weekend, “Tokyo Drift” didn’t even cover its production budget, and its entire run grossed just over half of what “2 Fast 2 Furious” raked in. Moviegoers were telling Universal, “No Walker and Diesel?
No way these seats sell.” Yeah, there’s crazy cars in every movie. But as objectively bad as it was, there was something about the
characters in the first one that people really connected with. Let’s look at this scene
from the first movie. Dom takes Brian back to his house to look at his 1970 Dodge Charger. The car belonged to Dom’s
dad, who passed away in a racing accident. Dom claims the car can run
nines at the drag strip, but when Brian asks Dom what he’s run, Dom says, – I’ve never driven her. – Why not? – Scares the shit outta me. – Again, I know it’s stupid. But I love it. – I live my life a quarter mile at a time. For those ten seconds or less, I’m free. – [Host] Among all that mindless formula, there were actually really relatable, dare I say archetypal scenes throughout. – I dunno, it’s something about
engines that calms me down. You know? – [Host] After the Eclipse blows up, Brian’s next car arrives
on the bed of a truck, the shell of a Toyota Supra. It’s not running, and
it’s difficult to see what it will become. The shell of a car,
Brian’s shell of a cop, he’s becoming more vested in his new crew, and will be built up by them, as he and Vin Diesel build up the Supra. Take this scene, with the
two in the empty engine bay. The two have room to
create something real, for the car, it’s an engine, for Walker, it’s a friendship. Dare I say, – Family. – [Host] He’s moving further
from his identity as a cop, and each element that
is added to the Supra, he becomes more a part of Diesel’s band. This is real stuff, people. Whether we want to admit it or not, people like the way Brian and Dom, or Letty and Dom, or Dom and this guy, interacted, it’s chemistry. – Street’s closed, pizza boy! Find another way home. – [Host] So, it’s 2009. Three years since “Tokyo Drift” laid an egg at the box office. And we found out they
were making another one. I was sixteen, so I was pretty stoked. But other people were like, “What?” Even more surprisingly was that director Justin Lin was back, the guy who directed “Tokyo Drift”. But this time he knew what people wanted, and it wasn’t just cars. “Tokyo” had cars, what it
didn’t have was Brian and Dom. Well, it had Dom, but
not ’til the very end. You know what I mean. Lin would get the original
gang back together, and hey, people might not
have liked “Tokyo Drift”, but they really liked Han,
so let’s get him in there. And of course don’t forget
about Letty and Mia. It was the franchise and
the director’s last shot. All or nothing. That sounds a lot like the
races in the first one. (yelling) – Lin blew it out of the park. “Fast and Furious” made
363 million dollars worldwide at the box office. The gang was back on. And they didn’t stop
adding to the formula. They made another one, “Fast Five”, where Ludacris and Tyrese were back. I don’t even remember what
they did in the second movie, but fans loved them. – Eject-o seat-o, cuz! – And yeah, what if we add
the biggest action star in the world to the mix? The Rock came on as a bad guy. And we loved it. Oh, guess what, for the next movie, how about we get, oh, I dunno, Jason Statham at the end. From the fourth movie on, the series made more and more money with each installment. “Fast Five” doubled the
box office with over six hundred million. Then “Furious Seven” made
a billion and a half. Then “The Fate of the Furious”
broke a billion again. By the time the latest
installment came out, the cast had two Oscar-winning actresses, and Helen Mirren asked to be in the movie. And who can forget all
the cars along the way? The Eclipse, The Supra. All of Dom’s Chargers. Brian’s silver R34. The Veilside RX7. The RB26 powered Mustang. The Buick GNX, the Rock’s Gurkha f5, the Ford Escort, the skydiving WRX, Dom’s Ice Charger, the list goes on. And the stunts! Going under the semi. Jumping over the train tracks. Jumping a Yenko Camaro onto the yacht. All of the real drifting in “Tokyo Drift”. The tanker heist, the vault heist, driving out of an airplane. Every movie raising the
stakes higher than the last. (gentle piano music) – [Host] So how did “The
Fast and the Furious” go from some weird cult classic about Misubishis and Toyotas, to worldwide appeal
and box-office records? It grew its own audience,
and continued to feed them more and more of what they wanted. It’s not only its own franchise, but it’s effectively its own genre. These movies give the fans what they want over and over and over and over again. And I am truly not ashamed to say that I love them. (music fades) – Again, I wanna thank Fixd
for sponsoring this episode. Fixd is the bluetooth OBD2 reader that connects wirelessly
to your smartphone, letting you watch critical
engine functions in real time and helps you diagnose check engine lights with the touch of an app. I actually use Fixd in my
car, and I really like it. So, click the link in
the description below, and use code “Donut” for
ten percent off your order. Hit that yellow subscribe
button right there, if you wanna see more videos about how the car world affects you. We talked about The
Eclipse on Up to Speed, so check that out right here. There’s a lot of cops
in “Fast and Furious”, and if you wanna know more about cop cars, check out this little
episode of Wheelhouse. There’s like five thousand cars in the “Fast and Furious” movies, but I wanna know what your favorite is. In the comments, let me know, I’ll be down there with ya. Be nice! I’ll see ya next week.