'Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw' Open to a Hefty Box Office
August 5, 2019
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw opened to a hefty box office take that accurately reflected the bulking biceps of its two leading men—arguably the last two great action stars of a waning era where brawn alone was big screen worthy: Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham.
Their bombastic, globe-trotting tête-à-tête brought in more than $60 million at the domestic box office over the weekend, with both The Rock and the Fast & Furious franchise's international appeal ensuring an extra $120 million or so on top of that in the global market.
In fact, the Fast & Furious franchise is probably the most commercially reliable cinematic intellectual property outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And this latest entry only proves that the series can maintain its must-see status outside of the central narrative.
Regardless of the motivation for the spin-off—which seems to preclude Johnson's involvement in the currently-filming Fast & Furious 9—the fact that audiences are ready to show up for these characters and scenarios in a different context no doubt ensures we'll be seeing films set in this universe for many decades to come.
Credit must be given to writer-producer Chris Morgan, who's been shepherding the franchise's narrative since the almost-forgotten third entry, 2006's The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. He's managed to spin a crazily expansive world out of what might at first glance be a somewhat limited narrative space. Indeed, space is perhaps the only place this franchise is yet to go, and may well be headed there.
Although $60 million isn't exactly a let-down, it's the third lowest domestic opening weekend gross for the franchise. The fact that Hobbs & Shaw didn't quite generate the numbers typically garnered by the central film series is perhaps attributable to how a film that opened last week has managed to maintain public interest throughout its second weekend in theaters.
Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood opened in second place last weekend behind The Lion King, and it hasn't overtaken the digitally-dazzling, yet narratively soulless Disney remake, which got bumped into second place by Hobbs & Shaw. Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood took the third spot over the weekend with $20 million, but more significantly, it has very much dominated the public film discourse ever since it opened. With the film still to open in many major international markets, it's a conversation that is sure to carry on for a while. Nobody is talking this much about The Lion King or Hobbs & Shaw.
In fact, it's hard to think of another studio-released film in recent years that has generated so much public debate. Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood has detractors just as vocal as the many lauding its genius. This can only be a good thing. It highlights to the business how much an original narrative can grasp the zeitgeist.
It's somewhat ironic, considering the elegiac tone of Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood, but the film is doing a lot to bring back something that was in danger of fading away: original stories. There aren't many filmmakers working today who can so reliably tap into a hunger for the unexpected in the mass audience.
Love him or hate him, it's hard to deny that Quentin Tarantino is a positive and critical example of how macro storytelling still matters.
Written by: Dominic CorryDominic Corry is a Los Angeles-based film critic, writer, journalist and broadcaster. Raised in New Zealand, he is also the West Coast editor of Letterboxd, the social network for movie lovers. For more of his film writing, see his website www.TheGoodInMovies.com