This Fast & Furious Box Office Secret Catapulted 'Hobbs & Shaw' To No. 1

CinemaCon 2013 - Day 2

LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 16: (L-R) Actors Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, and actresses Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez attend a Universal Pictures presentation to promote their upcoming film "Fast & Furious 6" at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace

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After two weekends in theaters, Hobbs & Shaw isn't quite as successful as the past five movies in the Fast and Furious franchise...yet here we are: Hobbs & Shaw is No. 1 at the box office for the second straight weekend. Raking in another $25.3 million, the Rock-and-Statham fueled blockbuster beat out five new releases and held off The Lion King as it increased its domestic total to $108.4 million and its worldwide earnings to $331.8 million.

It's been a trend ever since the fourth franchise film, Fast and Furious: open at No. 1, and stay at No. 1. Fast & Furious 6 remained in the top spot for two weeks; Fate of the Furious held at No. 1 for three weeks; and Furious 7 retained its grip on the top spot for a whopping four weeks. There's a lasting power to the Fast and Furious films that other franchises simply can't replicate.

And you can trace it all back to the family.

If you're ever looking for a fun drinking game, just get together with your friends, watch a Fast & Furious film and drink every time someone says "family." To Vin Diesel's character Dominic, being part of his family doesn't have anything to do with blood—it has to do with honor and loyalty. If you're there for him and his family, then you're part of the family too (Olive Garden style).

So sure, it's become a bit of a joke at this point for some people—Dom (as his family calls him) adds a new member to the "family" every other week. But the family is also what binds all the films together. It might seem trite and clichéd, but it's also such a heartfelt, earnest motif that weaves between the films that it's really hard to not root for the family.

If you need proof, just look at the franchises' box office history. While the original franchise film, The Fast and the Furious, had a strong showing with $144.5 million, the second film, 2 Fast 2 Furious couldn't replicate that success. Hitting only $127.2 million—despite a larger opening weekend—can be traced back to breaking up that family. Dom, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) were nowhere to be found.

Brian (Paul Walker) does introduce to future family members Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Chris Bridges) in the second film—but until everybody is together, it means nothing. It's even more painstaking to think about the franchise's biggest bomb: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. The third movie in the franchise decided to wipe the slate clean and introduced a slate of characters...that we don't care about. Lucas Black and Bow Wow are great, but they're not the "family."

And that's why the fourth film, Fast and Furious, struck gold. Utilizing the Marvel formula before the MCU ever existed, Fast and Furious brought everybody back together for a $155.1 million domestic showing and a $363.2 million worldwide revenue.

By yourself? You're incapable, lost, scared. Together? You become a force to be reckoned with.

From the fourth movie on, you can see the series starting to build on not just the size of the "family," but the strength of the family. In Fast Five ($209.8 million domestic, $626.1 million worldwide), Dom's inherent hesitations about Brian starting a life with Mia are erased when he learns Mia is pregnant; in Fast & Furious 6 ($238.7 million domestic, $788.7 million worldwide), the gang pursues an amnesia-struck Letty as if their own lives depend on her return; in Fate of the Furious ($226 million domestic, $1.236 billion worldwide), the family members chase after Dom, knowing that he must be in trouble and need their help.

But there are two other examples I think highlight the franchise's poignant use of the family motif. One comes in the form of Fate of the Furious. At the end of the film, as a fiery blast rages towards Dom ready to kill him, the family members skids their cars in front of him to protect him from the blast. This is a moment of showing vs. telling. In most films, the team would tell Dom they would do anything to protect him and his son—but in this moment, the film shows us just how much the team cares about protecting the family.

And then, of course, there's Furious 7—the film that accrued $353 million domestically and $1.516 billion worldwide (which is good enough to rank eighth on the all-time box office list, by the way). The movie's run at No. 1 was unfortunately propelled by the news of Paul Walker's death—but that's not why the movie was successful. After several movies of building the family name, our attachment to Brian's story throughout Furious 7 is what brings us to the theater. We're gripped when Brian runs along a careening bus, scared he won't make it; we hold back the tears when Brian gives a heartfelt goodbye to Mia, thinking he may never see her again; and, of course, we bawl during the final scene when the crew gives a symbolic goodbye to their longtime family member.

You can't fake any of this. Family is something almost everyone is passionate about, which is what's fueled the franchise's worldwide success. Together, the first eighth franchise movies amassed over $5 billion.

So now we have Hobbs & Shaw—a film that understands that "family" is what will win over audiences. The movie kicked things off with both Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) mending their relationships with their families, and it's clear those dynamics will continue to build and flourish as the Hobbs & Shaw universe expands.

Sure, the opening weeks for the film weren't as strong—but the opening weeks also weren't strong for the first three franchise films. It took time to get people used to the "family." And if the Hobbs & Shaw franchise follows suit with the other Fast and Furious movies, then Universal will have yet another juggernaut franchise on its hands.

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After two weekends in theaters, Hobbs & Shaw isn't quite as successful as the past five movies in the Fast and Furious franchise...yet here we are: Hobbs & Shaw is No. 1 at the box office for the second straight weekend. Raking in another $25.3 million, the Rock-and-Statham fueled blockbuster beat out five new releases and held off The Lion King as it increased its domestic total to $108.4 million and its worldwide earnings to $331.8 million.

It's been a trend ever since the fourth franchise film, Fast and Furious: open at No. 1, and stay at No. 1. Fast & Furious 6 remained in the top spot for two weeks; Fate of the Furious held at No. 1 for three weeks; and Furious 7 retained its grip on the top spot for a whopping four weeks. There's a lasting power to the Fast and Furious films that other franchises simply can't replicate.

And you can trace it all back to the family.

If you're ever looking for a fun drinking game, just get together with your friends, watch a Fast & Furious film and drink every time someone says "family." To Vin Diesel's character Dominic, being part of his family doesn't have anything to do with blood—it has to do with honor and loyalty. If you're there for him and his family, then you're part of the family too (Olive Garden style).

So sure, it's become a bit of a joke at this point for some people—Dom (as his family calls him) adds a new member to the "family" every other week. But the family is also what binds all the films together. It might seem trite and clichéd, but it's also such a heartfelt, earnest motif that weaves between the films that it's really hard to not root for the family.

If you need proof, just look at the franchises' box office history. While the original franchise film, The Fast and the Furious, had a strong showing with $144.5 million, the second film, 2 Fast 2 Furious couldn't replicate that success. Hitting only $127.2 million—despite a larger opening weekend—can be traced back to breaking up that family. Dom, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) were nowhere to be found.

Brian (Paul Walker) does introduce to future family members Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Chris Bridges) in the second film—but until everybody is together, it means nothing. It's even more painstaking to think about the franchise's biggest bomb: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. The third movie in the franchise decided to wipe the slate clean and introduced a slate of characters...that we don't care about. Lucas Black and Bow Wow are great, but they're not the "family."

And that's why the fourth film, Fast and Furious, struck gold. Utilizing the Marvel formula before the MCU ever existed, Fast and Furious brought everybody back together for a $155.1 million domestic showing and a $363.2 million worldwide revenue.

By yourself? You're incapable, lost, scared. Together? You become a force to be reckoned with.

From the fourth movie on, you can see the series starting to build on not just the size of the "family," but the strength of the family. In Fast Five ($209.8 million domestic, $626.1 million worldwide), Dom's inherent hesitations about Brian starting a life with Mia are erased when he learns Mia is pregnant; in Fast & Furious 6 ($238.7 million domestic, $788.7 million worldwide), the gang pursues an amnesia-struck Letty as if their own lives depend on her return; in Fate of the Furious ($226 million domestic, $1.236 billion worldwide), the family members chase after Dom, knowing that he must be in trouble and need their help.

But there are two other examples I think highlight the franchise's poignant use of the family motif. One comes in the form of Fate of the Furious. At the end of the film, as a fiery blast rages towards Dom ready to kill him, the family members skids their cars in front of him to protect him from the blast. This is a moment of showing vs. telling. In most films, the team would tell Dom they would do anything to protect him and his son—but in this moment, the film shows us just how much the team cares about protecting the family.

And then, of course, there's Furious 7—the film that accrued $353 million domestically and $1.516 billion worldwide (which is good enough to rank eighth on the all-time box office list, by the way). The movie's run at No. 1 was unfortunately propelled by the news of Paul Walker's death—but that's not why the movie was successful. After several movies of building the family name, our attachment to Brian's story throughout Furious 7 is what brings us to the theater. We're gripped when Brian runs along a careening bus, scared he won't make it; we hold back the tears when Brian gives a heartfelt goodbye to Mia, thinking he may never see her again; and, of course, we bawl during the final scene when the crew gives a symbolic goodbye to their longtime family member.

You can't fake any of this. Family is something almost everyone is passionate about, which is what's fueled the franchise's worldwide success. Together, the first eighth franchise movies amassed over $5 billion.

So now we have Hobbs & Shaw—a film that understands that "family" is what will win over audiences. The movie kicked things off with both Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) mending their relationships with their families, and it's clear those dynamics will continue to build and flourish as the Hobbs & Shaw universe expands.

Sure, the opening weeks for the film weren't as strong—but the opening weeks also weren't strong for the first three franchise films. It took time to get people used to the "family." And if the Hobbs & Shaw franchise follows suit with the other Fast and Furious movies, then Universal will have yet another juggernaut franchise on its hands.

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I co-founded Colossus, where we explain the movies that confuse and explore the movies that make you think. I have received accreditation as a film critic for the Toron

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