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Fast and Furious almost went straight-to-DVD for Tokyo Drift

The Fast and Furious franchise almost stalled after the third entry, which was considered a straight-to-video release, until the fans loved Diesel's cameo

Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift

The fate of the Fast and Furious franchise has had peaks and troughs since it all began way back in 2001. 2006’s Tokyo Drift has always been something of an outlier in the franchise – changing the setting from the US to Japan and attempting to return things to its street-racing roots. Critically and commercially, it did not fare well, but has since gained something of a cult following – if that word can be applied to any movie that is part of a multi-billion dollar franchise.

Tokyo Drift is in the bottom three Fast and Furious movies in terms of Rotten Tomatoes scores, and made the least amount of money out of all nine of the movies – with ‘only’ $159 million. Compare this to the most successful movie in the franchise – 2015’s Fast 7 which made over $1.5 billion alone.

And according to a 2013 article by The Wrap, Tokyo Drift almost went straight-to-DVD; “the cars and criminals series almost sputtered to a stop…with some at Universal fretting the series had run out of gas after its first two installments: The studio even considered releasing sequels on DVD without a theatrical run.”

“The talk internally was that the franchise was played out,” Jeffrey Kirschenbaum, Universal Pictures co-president of production, told TheWrap. “At that point we were weighing whether to go straight to video or not for future sequels. We weren’t sure what we were going to do.” It was the reaction to Diesel’s cameo at the end of Tokyo Drift that gave Universal the confidence to reinvigorate the series “It was like a rock concert. The audience went ballistic.”

2011’s Fast Five is when the franchise kicked up a gear and every entry since has made over $600 million, with two entries making well over [Dr. Evil voice] one billion dollars each. The franchises’s culmination – a tenth and eleventh movie which will serve as a finale – is currently being filmed.

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