The Fast and the Furious franchise is about to get a lot less fast, and quite possibly a little less furious: Universal is transitioning the franchise away from the original street racing concept and into the more humdrum territory of the heist genre. "We wanted to see if we could raise it out of about racing and make car driving ability just a part of the movie, like those great chases in The French Connection, The Bourne Identity, The Italian Job," said Universal chairman Adam Fogelson. So really… it's not much of a transition at all. The first Fast and the Furious was actually a hybrid of several genres, heist films included, and for the most part the series has straddled the surprisingly thin line between the street racing sub-genres and traditional crime flicks. (The first film was also pretty much a retread of Point Break, but let's not go down that rabbit hole.) This is almost a non-story, really. We're mostly just reporting it because we're surprised anyone would think it's a big deal.
Why the kind-of-sort-of-not-really change? Was it an artistic decision that grew organically out of the development process? Of course not. It's about money. The street racing sub-genre wasn't attracting new audiences, apparently, so Universal is shifting away from the franchise's original raison d’être in order to attract audiences who, by all rights, would rather be watching something else. It's yet another attempt to make a four-quadrant kind of picture (for young, old, male and female audiences) because that's where the money's at, but at least it should be fairly seamless this time.
Deadline, which broke the story, pointed out that it's extremely rare for a movie studio to change the genre of a successful franchise. It's more common in TV though, where ongoing storylines can cause a series to make drastic shifts in subject material and tone in order to keep audiences interested after the original concept has been thoroughly mined for ideas. Angel spent his last season running a law office, Lost became a time travel series (and then a religious mumbo-jumbo series), and Prison Break completely flew off the rails when it abandoned the idea of prison breaks altogether to focus on…
…heists. Crap. Good luck, Universal!
Crave Online will be back with more Fast and Furious franchise news, because it ain't done yet.