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April 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

This weekend will reveal whether Universal’s wholesale retinkering of its Fast and Furious franchise will keep it alive. Today’s (Tuesday) Los Angeles Times observed that Fast Five, which opens on Friday, will be more like Ocean’s 11 than the clandestine-racing series that has proved to be a bonanza for the studio for nearly a decade. Universal Co-Chairman Donna Langley told the newspaper, “We had a lot of conversations about what we needed do to create longevity and recognized that the core theme of car racing counterculture had run its course.” Instead, the movie, set in Rio, brings together characters from the previous films in the franchise to stage a caper aimed at stealing $100 million from a crime lord in the Brazilian city. “Our hope is to turn what has been the biggest car-racing franchise into a huge action franchise that’s appealing regardless of whether or not you care about cars or the previous films,” Universal Chairman Adam Fogelson told the Times. Added producer Neal Moritz: “Our feeling was that we could do the younger version of Ocean’s 11.” Initial results are promising. Fast Five opened overseas in a few key markets last weekend and collected about $24 million on fewer than 1,000 screens. Daily Variety reported that it opened in Australia with $10.7 million in ticket sales, 41 percent more than the No. 2 film, Paramount’s Thor.