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'Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw' Open to a Hefty Box Office

August 5, 2019
2 min read time

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.

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