Is Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Done Making ‘Fast and Furious’ Movies?
The series has grown more successful since The Rock joined the team in Fast Five, when the franchise morphed from being about street racing to heists with a diverse cast. Some have said the movies are getting ridiculously over the top, but then, so are the box office grosses, which top $5.4 billion worldwide.
However, all is not well in Fast and Furious land, with Diesel and Johnson feuding and Tyrese Gibson adding to the fray by siding with Diesel. Will Johnson be back?
‘Hobbs & Shaw’ leads the box office
The series’ first spinoff movie, which teams up Johnson with frenemy Jason Statham, another series regular, has topped the box office for two weeks, grossing $334 million worldwide so far. This proves the durability not only of the Fast and Furious franchise but of Johnson’s drawing power. Many people are saying he’s one of the few remaining stars that can put butts in seats.
He has appeared in a number of other franchises, including GI Joe, and Jumanji, with the reboot’s sequel coming out this December. In fact, his top-grossing movie is the 2017 Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, which surprised everyone by making $405 million dollars in the United States alone. Number 2 is Furious 7, where the series said goodbye to the late Paul Walker; that movie made $353 here. Number 3 is Disney’s Moana, which took in $248 million.
Like all stars, he’s had a few misfires, such as the poorly received Baywatch, which made only $58 million, and Skyscraper, which disappointed with $68 million, despite being right in Johnson’s wheelhouse of big action spectacles. Still, he has also boosted movies that might not have been as successful without him, such as the giant monster movie Rampage and the earthquake flick San Andreas, which both topped $100 million. So should the Fast and Furious producers be worried about Johnson passing on Fast and Furious 9, due out next May?
Vin Diesel vs The Rock: Who has more star power?
Trouble began brewing between the series’ two big stars during the shooting of Fate of the Furious, the eighth movie of the series. Johnson posted on social media: “Some conduct themselves as stand up men and true professionals, while others don’t. The ones that don’t are too chicken s–t to do anything about it anyway. Candy *sses.”
Johnson didn’t specifically name the unprofessional person, but it didn’t take long for fans to speculate that Johnson and Diesel were saying to each other: “This franchise ain’t big enough for the both of us.” Complicating matters was Gibson, who sided with Diesel and made his displeasure with Johnson unmistakable.
Series writer Chris Morgan took the diplomatic route, saying: “I don’t think there’s a feud per se … I know there’s a lot of reports and stories and stuff like that, but they’re both nice, mature guys, and they’re also businessmen. I don’t think it has a major effect on the Fast franchise. The characters will continue to weave in and out.”
Feud or not, Johnson will not be in Fast & Furious 9, which is now shooting under returning director Justin Lin and is scheduled for release May 22. However, Johnson has not ruled out being in Fast and Furious 10, because his and Diesel’s characters have “unfinished business.”
How the ‘Furious’ franchise evolved
When the first movie in the series came out in 2001, the street-racing movie surprised Hollywood by making $144 million, so it quickly became a series. 2 Fast 2 Furious did a little less well in 2003, making $127 million. Diesel had dropped out but Ludacris and Gibson joined the team. The third movie, Tokyo Drift, was regarded as a strange one-off, with no one returning from the prior movies, and it made only $62 million. However, it did bring in Lin, who would become the series’ most important director.
Diesel rejoined the franchise in 2009’s Fast and Furious, which started the box office upswing, making $155 million. All the elements came together in 2011’s Fast Five, widely regarded as the best movie of the lot. The grosses kept growing, peaking with Furious 7, made more poignant by the passing of Walker, who died in a car accident not related to the movie.
Where can the series go from here, with Johnson out, at least temporarily? Some people have joked the movies will end up in outer space, just as the James Bond movies did with Moonraker — and Morgan isn’t ruling it out.
“You know, that’s the thing. I would say nothing is off-limits as long as we can stay on the right side of keeping the audience engaged,” he said.