'Fast and Furious' Slays Weekend Box Office, & Becomes The 7th Highest Grossing Film Ever

And in first place, racing to box office gold, is Furious 7, the latest and no doubt most successful installment of The Fast and The Furious franchise. After just three short weeks in theaters, the film has grossed 1.153 billion in worldwide ticket sales, officially solidifying it as the 7th highest grossing film of all time. The only thing that comes close is the Paul Blart sequel — a film that has me definitely asking, "Seriously, Hollywood?" — at number two, and the techno-thriller Unfriended at number three. But Furious 7 flies past both of them significantly, and we have to wonder, how the hell did this happen?

As a one-shot stand alone film, the first Fast and Furious was a bit of an odd sell. Starring Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, it started as a flick about illegal underground racing and an undercover cop trying to find someone who's highjacking car parts. From there it devolves into something more along the lines of "some crime is happening, and there's really fast driving" and "the protagonists are doing the crimes sometimes, but they're like, the good guys." You know with the previous description ripped from the mouth of my 22-year-old frat boy brother, likely the series' core demographic. Despite the plot getting more and more convoluted (Tokyo Drift, for example, has nearly nothing to do with the original cast), the franchise has gotten increasingly popular with each film.

But something happened with Furious 7 that made it explode in the box office. Maybe there's a deeper layer of poignancy with the loss of Walker, Fast and Furious' face (and piercing blue eyes) of the franchise. The star died in an ironic and tragic car crash on the way to a charity event while the film was still in production, forcing writers to weave his absence into the storyline. Though I wasn't there on opening night (it's nothing personal, I just don't get the appeal of cars and machismo) my brother assures me that Walker's swan song inspired the manliest tears.

Furthering that idea, undoubtedly his passing brought in a larger audience, solely based on morbid curiosity. Viewers wondering how they would write out the main character. Following Walker's death, Time reported that Universal would not be killing off his character in the film, instead choosing to retire the iconic role. This left Furious fans is perpetual anticipation, wondering how they would approach this delicate subject.

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Whether it's a matter of quality or a matter of intrigue, it goes without saying that Furious 7's success is unprecedented and impressive, financially beating out other huge franchise films like The Dark Night Rises and The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. And at the rate it's going, who knows what other films it might race past next?

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