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Love them or hate them, you can’t deny that The Fast and Furious films have been a massive global success. With the exception of the genre-breaking Tokyo Drift, each Fast and Furious box office take has been larger than the last, with Fast Five raking in over $600 million, Fast & Furious 6 almost $800 million, and the most recent pair of films both passing the $1 billion-dollar mark, making them both two of only 29 films in history to achieve this.
With this massive profit margin (Furious 7 earned $1.5 billion against a budget of just $190 million), the team has been able to spread their wings across the globe, matching their exotic, high-powered cars with equally exotic locations. The Fast and Furious films have taken us all over the world, from Abu Dhabi and Azerbaijan to the sights and sounds of Panama City.
Yet it all began in such humble style, with Dom and the gang barely leaving sunny California in the original 2001 The Fast and The Furious. Even in the much-anticipated sequel, 2003’s 2 Fast 2 Furious, the action remains largely U.S-based, although, it is spread across the country from L.A. to Miami.
We had to wait until the third film, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, in 2006, for the franchise to truly spread its wings, leaping across the world to the street races and drift competitions of the Japanese capital. Sadly, few of the original team went with it, and the film was a flop, making $70 million less on a budget that was $9 million bigger than its predecessor.
In 2009, we saw the revival of both the franchise and the original cast, with Fast & Furious, broadening the backdrop from the opening scenes, which saw them hijacking fuel tankers in the Dominican Republic to the main plot involving drug smuggling across the Mexican border.
Following the success of film number four, more than doubling the box office for the same budget, 2011’s Fast Five was green-lighted to move the action wholesale to Rio de Janeiro. That said, the bulk of the movie was actually shot in Puerto Rico after the government offered tax breaks amounting to over $11 million to attract the filmmakers. It was a tactic that paid major dividends, with the exotic locations adding to the energy and mystique of the movies and translating into a $629 million return on a budget of just $125 million.
With the team all rich after the success of their heist in Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6 opens with them spread across the world, taking the franchise global for the first time. Locations for the sixth installment ranged from London to Russia and Spain to Tokyo, with filming taking place in Hong Kong and the Canary Islands as well as the less glamorous locations of Glasgow and Liverpool’s Mersey Tunnels.
Once again, the strategy paid off, with a globetrotting plot generating a worldwide $789 million from a $160 million budget. This led to Furious 7 stretching its wings even further, taking in far-flung shores from Abu Dhabi to Azerbaijan, with filming in Toronto and the Dominican Republic. Costing just $30 million more, Furious 7 almost doubled the box office take.
So where do you go when you have already been around the world? What else can you do with car action scenes when you have already done pretty much everything possible? Well, you go off the land and onto the packed ice of the Barents Sea, between Russia and Norway, and you add in a submarine to take on the cars. It might seem crazy, but it’s already taken over $1.2 billion and it’s still showing in most multiplexes.
This leaves us with just one question: with Fast & Furious 9 and 10 already confirmed by Vin Diesel for 2019 and 2021, respectively, where else is left for our favorite speed junkies to go to? Is it only a matter of time before we see ‘Fast and Furi-ISS’ with Dom and the gang racing weightlessly around the space station?