On this day in pop culture history: ‘The Fast and the Furious’ opened in theaters
15 years ago today, Fast and Furious started its engines. It was on June 22, 2001 that the first film in the massively successful franchise hit theaters.
The franchise began with a movie about a police officer who goes undercover into the world of street racing and semi-truck hijacking. It’s since morphed into a series of heist films, boasting crazy stunts, a tight-knit team in Dom Toretto’s crew, and an admirably diverse cast.
The soaring box office achievements of the most recent film, Furious 7, have been attributed in part to the fact that 75% of the audience for the film in North America was non-white — it managed to connect with a diverse audience and looks to be leading the way for the rest of the industry.
“There is literally someone within the cast that is relatable on some level to nearly every moviegoer around the world, and this has paid big dividends at the box office and also in terms of how casting decisions will be made in the future for these types of large-scale action epics,” Rentrak box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian told The Hollywood Reporter last year.
Furious 7 stands as the sixth-highest grossing film of all time. It also, aptly, is the fastest movie to cross the $1 billion mark — in just 17 days. The entire series has earned over $3.8 billion worldwide.
Tragedy struck the Fast and Furious family when franchise star Paul Walker died November 2013. But the Fast & Furious Saga, as it’s being called by Universal Studios now, will live on. Eighth, ninth, and tenth films are in the works, with #10 slated for a 2021 opening — yes, this will be a franchise that’s 10 movies spanning 20 years.
Other notable June 22 happenings in pop culture history:
• 1971: Joni Mitchell released the album Blue.
• 1977: Disney’s The Rescuers opened in theaters.
• 1979: The Muppet Movie opened in U.S. theaters. It was the first theatrical film featuring Jim Henson’s beloved puppet creations.
• 1984: The Karate Kid waxed on waxed off into theaters.
• 1985: Bryan Adams’ “Heaven” hit the top of the of the U.S. singles chart. The 2001 DJ Sammy dance over of the song later got into the top 10 of the the Billboard Hot 100 too.
• 1988: We saw what happened when you put Daffy Duck and Donald Duck in the same room when Who Framed Roger Rabbit opened in theaters.
• 1990: Billy Joel performed a concert at Yankee Stadium.
• 2007: The series finale of Stargate SG-1 aired in the U.S., after having aired in the U.K. that March. The show had lasted 10 seasons (214 episodes), making it the longest-running sci-fi series broadcast in North America. In regard to the time span it aired, Stargate SG-1 still holds that record, but it’s been surpassed by Smallville and Supernatural in terms of number of episodes.
• 2009: It was the end of an era when Kodak announced that after 74 years, it would discontinue sales of Kodachrome, its oldest film stock.