The Fast & Furious franchise is building up to a new movie every year - but as Disney's proven with Star Wars, that's not a great idea. In the years since the original Fast and the Furious hit theaters in 2001, the franchise has grown by leaps and bounds in popularity and scale. The last two installments made well over $1 billion at the global box office apiece, and the series at large has grossed more than $5 billion over the course of eight films. Things shouldn't slow down (pardon the wording) this summer either, when Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham team up for the spinoff, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.
Still, there's reason for concern that Universal's starting to move too quickly with the franchise. The studio's released a new Fast & Furious movie every two years for the past decade, and the approach has served them well. Not only have the films steadily increased in popularity over that period, they've also brought the property newfound levels of critical acclaim. Arguably, that's because each movie has come out far enough apart to give the franchise's creative architects time to evaluate what did and didn't work and evolve their plans for the next sequel accordingly.
Related: Every Upcoming Fast & Furious Movie
This has resulted in noticeable changes to the franchise's formula (in a good way), in terms of everything from the tone to genre, and - more recently - even gender representation. Now, however, Universal is taking steps to make Fast & Furious an annual event, between the various spinoffs and sequels that are officially in development and those we haven't heard about yet, but which are clearly being either mapped out or considered. If that strategy sounds familiar, it's because Disney just tried doing that with a galaxy far, far away... and they learned the hard way that it doesn't really work.
Fast & Furious Is Building Up To One Movie A Year
At the moment, Fast & Furious 9 is scheduled to arrive eight months after Hobbs & Shaw in April 2020, followed by Fast & Furious 10 almost exactly twelve months later in 2021. However, while there were once (reportedly) plans to shoot Fast 9 & 10 back to back this year, the idea has seemingly been abandoned. Likewise, Justin Lin is only confirmed to direct Fast & Furious 9 right now, despite Vin Diesel's claim that he's already committed to helming Fast 10 after. Thing is, the latter doesn't have a screenwriter just yet and will need to start production in just over a year, around the same time Fast 9 hits theaters. That's a quick turn-around, not least of all for a project that hasn't really begun pre-production this far out.
For that reason, there's a good chance the 2021 release date will ultimately go to the female Fast & Furious spinoff that Diesel announced last week. That project already has a writer - check that, three writers - and was pitched by Diesel back in 2017, so it's relatively far along already. This wouldn't be the first time a slow-moving Fast & Furious installment was delayed for a rapidly-developing spinoff, either. In fact, that's exactly what happened when Fast 9 shifted back to 2020 and Hobbs & Shaw took its old spot in 2019. Either way, the end result is the same: Universal clearly intends to start releasing a new Fast & Furious movie each year.
This Is What Ruined Disney's Star Wars
As we've discussed at Screen Rant before, Disney's plan to release a new Star Wars movie every year hasn't panned out. The strategy has resulted in everything from Disney/Lucasfilm having to rush Solo: A Star Wars Story through reshoots to make a 2018 release date - and then cancelling plans for similar character spinoffs after the film under-performed - to the recent Star Wars movies feeling like less of an "event" simply because there's less time between releases for audiences to get excited agin. Not to mention: there's been less time for fans to get over their issues with the previous installment by the time a new one rolls around. That's why people were still debating The Last Jedi by the time Solo hit theaters last May.
We're already starting to see similar issues crop up with Fast & Furious. The Hobbs & Shaw trailer got fans talking about #JusticeforHan again, even two years after Fate of the Furious controversially redeemed Deckard Shaw after he murdered Han in Fast & Furious 6's post-credits scene. If Hobbs & Shaw pulls a similarly divisive move, it might cast a shadow over Fast & Furious 9 when it arrives in spring 2020. There's also the concern: if Hobbs & Shaw is as entertaining as the trailer suggests, it might leave people wanting to see more spinoffs rather than additional Fast & Furious sequels (especially since the late Paul Walker's no longer part of the series).
Put simply, Disney's missteps with Star Wars have demonstrated that not all shared universes are meant to sustain a film a year, much less multiple ones (a la Marvel and DC's cinematic franchises). And as much as Fast & Furious has evolved into a superhero property of its own lately, there's fair reason to think it would be better off sticking with its approach of releasing a new movie every two years, not annually.
- Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019) release date: Aug 02, 2019
- Fast & Furious 9 (2020) release date: May 22, 2020