The threequel film has been the undoing of many of a great franchise, and even the adrenalin-packed Fast and Furious series couldn't escape the curse of the third film with Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.
While the movie has now become a sort of favorite among the Fast fans (let's not forget it did give us Han), it remains the lowest grossing film of the franchise, bringing in $158 million worldwide on an $85 million budget. However given that it was still a financial success, it allowed the series to continue with a fourth film, providing that Vin Diesel returned to the main cast, having made just a cameo appearance at the end of in Tokyo Drift.
As we know, the series then made the bold — and clever — move to set the fourth film before the events of Tokyo Drift, ultimately placing it between the events of Fast & Furious 6 and Furious 7, giving it more relevance to the overall franchise than initially thought.
But a recent Uproxx interview with Fast and Furious franchise screenwriter, Chris Morgan has revealed that originally Tokyo Drift was going to tie into the first two films far more obviously, involving a main role for Vin Diesel's character, Dom Toretto:
"There was an open writing call for the third film. I think originally I came in and pitched. Essentially it was Tokyo Drift, but it was with Vin, and his character kind of had to go out and learn drifting. And there was a murder he had to solve."
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But as amazing as a murder-mystery Fast and Furious movie involving Dom sounds, unfortunately it was not to be — Vin Diesel had already turned down his role in 2 Fast 2 Furious in order to star in xXx, seemingly calling quits on the franchise, meaning they needed a different angle:
"And they said, 'Nah, can’t do that. We have to do high school.' And so the movie became what the movie was. I was really proud of it. And the audience, they came to see it. A lot of people liked it. It kind of did the worst of all the films."
Although a Vin-centric film was off the cards, in the end Vin struck a deal with the studio to appear in the film in a cameo role. Morgan believes that it was this move that ensured the franchise would continue:
"It is so funny. It could have been the death throes, and then thankfully, the thing that kind of saved us was that we got Vin at the very end of the movie to come in and kind of hint where we’re going to go in the future. That moment at the end, everyone’s like, 'Oh my God, what does this mean? Are they going to do something else?' And that gave us the ammo to go in and do the fourth one, which led us to do the fifth and the sixth and the seventh and the eighth. So it all kind of built from there."
Following the slight speed bump of Tokyo Drift, the franchise has continued from strength to strength. After realizing the core strength of the films lay in the relationships of the characters, the franchise managed to balancing the high-octane action with the overarching message of family (particularly the idea of "family of choice"), adding depth to the series, which debuts its eighth installment, The Fate of the Furious on April 14. So, while Tokyo Drift may not be the best film of the series, it's definitely had a very important role overall.
What is your favorite film in the Fast and Furious franchise?
Poll image source: Universal Pictures