“Fast Five,” which hits Blu-ray and DVD this week, pulled in $616 million in worldwide box office and, yes, a sixth (and seventh?) film in the high-velocity franchise is revving up already. Our Geoff Boucher caught up with director Justin Lin on Monday to talk about the home video release and the franchise’s impressive mileage with him at the wheel for three of the movies.
GB: “Fast Five” surprised some Hollywood observers with its impressive showing — it earned more money than “Cars 2,” “Thor” or “Captain America: The First Avenger,” films that were more expensive to make. Did you have a good feeling going into the project or were you also caught off guard a bit by the way everything fell into place for that strong opening weekend?
JL: The whole idea of this being part of the franchise was something that we talked about from Day One. When I talked to the studio back on [the third film in the franchise] “Tokyo Drift,” it was really about trying to rebuild something and for me it was very important to get the sensibility of it all. It’s funny at that point, that was in 2005, we were talking about how if we had the opportunity — and if the audience embraced it — that we’d have it all evolve to the things you see now. So a lot of this was talked about and the reason we were able to make “Fast Five” is because that was something embraced by the fans and it allowed us to grow. On the creative side that felt good and on the set it felt good. And it was the greatest hope when I signed on to do these movies.
GB: You added Dwayne Johnson into the mix this time around. It’s interesting because Dwayne and Vin Diesel bring very different energies to their projects and their personalities on the set could hardly be more different.
JL: [laughs] Yes. Yeah, totally, you’re right on. That’s part of why I enjoyed being part of all this. I don’t think any day has been the same and all of these films are very different [even] as we have an opportunity now to make another one. It just felt appropriate that if we had an opportunity to make a part five that we needed some new energy and I’ve always wanted to find the right role for Dwayne. And it all happened very organically. As soon as we started talking about that role, my greatest hope was that we could get someone like Dwayne and once we sat down and talked it through it just felt like it was a natural fit.
GB: What can you tell us about the extended edition of “Fast Five” that hits home video this week? What makes it different than the theatrical version?
JL: It’s extended and I don’t know if people will notice. What I mean is when you make films — and with the tone of “Fast Five” — there’s a lot of back and forth with the MPAA and the rating. It’s just part of the process. I thought the process was very fair and the back and forth was great but if there had been no restrictions, this is the version that would have been the movie. And if you watch [the extended edition] a lot of the hits and the action sequences, it’s very subtle but this is the version that I prefer. The version that was in theaters is the essence of everything I wanted but the extended version is [a fuller realization]. There is one extra scene in the extended version … but most people that have seen it really could barely tell the difference. But tonally, it has everything. If you want to look at the definitive cut, that’s the cut you want. And when Hobbs breaks the guy’s neck you really do hear it on this cut [laughs].
GB: Looking ahead, what’s the future of the franchise?
JL: I’m excited, man. As we talk now we’re in the process and something really fun is developing. When Vin and I were sitting and talking years ago about a trilogy — and hopefully having the opportunity to earn it — this is kind of the culmination of that. Having “Fast Five” and getting to travel around the world and really getting to talk to the fans, I’m excited about what we have. This is the reason why you partake in ventures like this, to be able to get to this opportunity and a chance to close up the franchise in a proper way. This is something that we’ve talked a lot about. I’m excited every day to be able to talk about this stuff that we used to talk about for fun and now we’re going to see it come to real life. I can’t talk about that much more other than to say that we’re talking about the proper way to really close everything out the right way. At the studio everybody is excited and, really, everything is at the best situation it can be.
GB: So is this the next thing that you’re doing? There are all the reports that you set aside a “Terminator” sequel and walked away from a “Highlander” remake to get this next “Fast” film in gear and word that you might film two “Fast” films back-to-back to cloe out the franchise…
JL: I tend to go and do an indie project or something very different between the “Fast” movies. I don’t think I’m going to have time to do a feature in between. Creatively, I’ve had to put some stuff on hold and walk away from some projects that I really love to do this but this is an opportunity for me and for us to close out the franchise the right way. It comes with a price but it’s something that I look forward to. This has been a great part of my growth as a filmmaker and it’s been an amazing thing to establish and continue this relationship with fans not just from the U.S. but from around the world. That’s something that I take to heart. It’s very rare you get to do this. Usually when I’m talking to actors and their back stories, it never gets to come on screen but with this we’re going to see it come to life. So it’s worth it.
— Geoff Boucher
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