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Vin Diesel’s Fast and Furious 3 cameo actually saved two franchises

If you have a franchise and you need it saving, give Vin Diesel a call. He rescued Fast and Furious and got another series on track too.

Vin Diesel's cameo in Tokyo Drift saved Fast and Furious, and another franchise

Vin Diesel’s brief cameo in the final moments of the third Fast and Furious movie, Tokyo Drift, fired the starting pistol on the franchise we know today, connecting the three movies together. But the scene also fired a lightning bolt into the heart of another of Diesel’s beloved franchises: Riddick.

The Fast and Furious movies were on the road to becoming a straight-to-DVD franchise until Diesel said yes to making a brief appearance as Dominic Toretto at the end of Tokyo Drift. His return secured a producer credit on the new movies to come after that, which also won him enough stock with Universal Pictures to revive Riddick after 2004’s The Chronicles of Riddick disappointed at the box office.

“So when I did the cameo, they gave me two franchises,” Diesel told the LA Times in 2013. “Fast, which they didn’t think they’d ever produce again, and Riddick, which they didn’t want to produce ever again.”

Diesel refused the chance to return as Dom for 2 Fast 2 Furious, but zoomed in to save the day when Tokyo Drift got some rough test screening responses. Part of the deal was that, as well as returning to lead the Fast and Furious cast from then on, he’d get another crack at Riddick.

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Dom’s appearance at the end of Tokyo Drift solidified his link with Han from the past and laid the table for the Fast and Furious characters from the first movie to return for Fast & Furious in 2009. Since then, the franchise has delivered its best movies – Fast Five is an obvious winner, but we love The Fate of the Furious too – and earned a succession of billion-dollar grosses.

But all of this didn’t mean that Riddick was a certainty. It took a long time to get the threequel over the line and, before 2013’s Riddick finally arrived, things got a little dicey.

Diesel said: “I was in a very tricky situation. The deal I had for Tokyo Drift was running out. So I had maybe a month left in my window and then all the money I spent on the writing and development would have been lost because it was about to revert back [to the studio]. It was the scariest moment of my career.”

Riddick got much better reviews than its predecessor and also managed to turn a decent profit at the box office. Riddick 4 has been in development ever since and it was originally due to film in late 2023, though we expect the 2023 Actors Strike might have slowed everything down. You’ve got plenty of time to watch the Riddick movies in order and catch up.

The 2013 Riddick movie only happened because of Vin Diesel's cameo in Fast and Furious 3

Diesel’s commitment to his favorite franchises is now legendary. So when you watch the Fast and Furious movies in order yet again, it’s worth remembering that Diesel made this all happen with one, two-minute cameo.

And if you love the franchise as much as us, you’ll want to revisit the silliest Fast and Furious scene and check out our round-up of the Fast and Furious cars we wish we could drive. You can also read our Fast X review and look ahead to the Fast and Furious 11 release date.