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“Fast Five” Poised To Make Box Office History + Its Larger Social Meaning

"Fast Five" Poised To Make Box Office History + Its Larger Social Meaning

Though the official final weekend numbers won’t come out until tomorrow, Fast Five (AKA The Fast and the Furious V) will set the biggest opening box office in Universal Pictures’ history.

The film is projected to make $80 million this weekend beating Universal’s previous opening box office holder Lost World: Jurassic Park, which opened to a $72 million opening weekend tally, and the previous Fast and Furious movie, which made $71 million on it’s opening weekend. You just can’t beat fast cars, hot women in bikinis, and testosterone overload to bring people into the theater. (Though that titanic fight in the film between Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson has some serious homoerotic overtones. Who knows? It may have brought even more people into the theaters)

No doubt this is good news to theater owners still trying to regain their footing, with box office receipts so far this year down 23% from last year, which was down 10% for the same period the year before.

However the huge success of Fast Five also means something else which most film biz analysts will overlook. This is a film with a multi-racial cast: Blacks, whites, Latinos (both light and dark skinned), Asians and bi-racial. You know a cast that represents the REAL world as we know it. That’s in stark contrast to, not only most films, but also to movies based on popular novels and TV shows which feature multi-racial characters.

Yet, when they are, in turn, adapted into films, all of a sudden, those multi-ethnic characters turn white such as The Last Airbender and the upcoming film versions of The Hunger Games, Akira and 21 Jump Street.

For books and TV it’s fine, but when it come to the movies, studios, filmmakers and producers say: “Lets make them white or else white people either won’t come or they’ll flee out of the theaters in horror and disgust.”

So how would they explain the success of Fast Five? Looks like the racial makeup of the cast didn’t seem to scare off anybody.

P.S. Oh yeah Madea’s Big Happy Family weekend numbers dropped this weekend by 70%.

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I was just talking to my daughter the other day. How do these movie ticket counters really know the racial/gender/sexual preference make up of audiences that go see movies. Is there somebody sitting there spying on everyone coming into every theater?

I love Dwayne Johnson and I think his casting probably made a lot of people go see this movie.
I dont care what kind of ethnicity is playing what. If it’s a good movie I’ll see it. The sucess of an mostly all black cast (Waiting to Exhale) years ago should have put a stop to all that.
There is really no tried and true formula to what kind of movie will sell. Just like music the powers that be think they know what will sell and are constantly suprised about what people really go see. Anything Pixar is great but the stories are so good….I’m not really expecting anything good from Cars II.


I don’t know if they planned on it, but would this mean there is going to be a part 6 because with the big numbers ( I heard $83 million) it makes sense.


hmmm, i don’t know. tempting as it might be to see a silver lining in this, i’m dubious. i think the big b.o. for this is due far more to it’s franchise status (audiences know what they’re getting for the fifth time over) and the pulchritude of it’s stars (male, female and automotive) and, in most of the country, beautiful spring weather oversees the weekend. much as i hate to acknowledge it, i’d say will smith’s ascendence (and before him, eddie murphy (the horror… the horror)) says more about the (selective?) colorblindness of audiences than this spectacle.


Two sweaty men’s bouncing and tossing each other off walls, grates, cars, trucks and thangs, then finally attempting to smash ones head with a wrench…homoerotic… HHmmmm reviewer..I think you are EASILY aroused MATE!! But whatever does it for you. Great action flick with great cliff hanger at end!!


I’ve never bought that racial argument, It has been used as an excuse to keep the status quo and I think many of us have always known that. Aside from that, there is too much sexy going on in this film for it ever to fail! Just wasn’t happening.



At this moment, watching The Karate Kid (Jaden Smith version) on cable. Another movie with a multiracial cast (I think there were only 2 Caucasians with speaking roles) and it was a box office success.

I think the fact that KK and Fast Five were geared towards a younger viewing audience is key. That younger generation – raised on the Cosby Show and hip hop – is more open to multiracial casts.

However the people making the casting decisions are older and reared in that (hopefully) soon to be outdated business model – keep it white in order to be successful.

It’s a generational divide. Just like mostly younger whites voted for Obama while older whites voted for the White guy – whoever he was.

dennis lee

Good article… Of course if you use a multi-racial cast you’ll rake in more dollars! That’s the only part, Hollywood hasn’t quite figure out yet.

The Last Airbender was a disappointment for 2 simple reasons. One, Ang’s not even like Chinese/Japanese. Who the hell would want to watch that? That’s like having Will Ferrell dress up as Martin Luther King? WTF? Secondly, its directed by M.Night Shamalyn; the worst director in Hollywood! All of his films are garbage! The Village, Devil, etc..


Yes, and the fact that this film got mostly good reviews(The best of the series) didn’t hurt either.


In honor of Fast Five… a story so good, it could change you: “My Fast
and Furious Life”


I am not the target demographic, but I am an actor, so please, G-d, let the larger social meaning of this film prevail so that, eventually, we can see colored people starring opposite each other in big screen, big budget romantic comedies.


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