Hollywood Is Betting On ‘Asinine,’ ’Bonkers’ F9

The new Fast And Furious movie is the first real summer blockbuster in two years

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Photo: F9

F9, the latest installment of The Fast And The Furious’ multicultural love story between a bald man and his Dodge, has a lot on its well-toned shoulders. It’s supposed to be the blockbuster that restarts the movie business. That and more in The Morning Shift for June 23, 2021.


1st Gear: $60 Million Would Be A Win, But Still Half Of Furious 7

Every time I find out that a Fast and the Furious movie is a hit, I still get surprised. There’s something about them that feels personal. Like, do all these other people yell “ejecto seato, cuz?” at each other? I doubt it.

In any case, the F&F movies have been Hollywood mainstream for a few movies now, and that has put a lot of pressure on them, as Bloomberg details in a new report:

“I feel really good going into the release of the film,” [Donna Langley], chair of Comcast Corp.’s Universal Filmed Entertainment, said in an interview. “It feels that the audience is getting more comfortable to go back.”

The fact that critics think the movie is “asinine” and “bonkers,” chock full of car stunts that would make those even casually familiar with the laws of physics roll their eyes, is beside the point.


“There is a lot of pressure, because let’s be honest, this is the first true summer blockbuster we’ve had in over two years,” said Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst at Comscore, harking back to the 2019 release of Walt Disney Co.’s “Avengers: Endgame.”

All told, though, it’s not a ton of money on the line, per B’berg:

With about 80% of U.S. theaters open and some capacity restrictions lingering, analysts predict the film will generate as much as $60 million in its domestic opening weekend. That’s not even half of the $147 million that the largest Fast & Furious film, “Furious 7,” made on its opening weekend in 2015, and it would be a bit below average compared with the other movies in the franchise. Still, it would be the biggest release of the pandemic era by more than $10 million.


2nd Gear: The Death Of The Dealership Starts At The High End

Please enjoy this Financial Times article about how dealerships are going the way of the dodo, and focuses exclusively on Polestar, Tesla, and other high-end marques:

Last weekend, I headed to the mall to shop for some lipstick, a pair of black pumps and, while I was at it, a new car.

These days, Westfield London, an urban mall, is one of the hottest places around for those in an automotive frame of mind. Sprinkled among shops selling Tag Heuer watches, Tiffany’s jewellery and Apple iPhones are outposts of five different car brands including Tesla and Polestar, Volvo’s electric-only marque.

The contrast between the first UK outlet of Genesis, the high-end arm of South Korea’s Hyundai, and the suburban dealership where I bought my first car could not have been more stark. Back then, the condescending salesmen who guarded the acres of vehicles were so high pressure that I ended up enlisting my dad to handle the sale. 


I don’t think that people shopping for new luxury cars ever quite had the same experience as the people hitting the local Toyota dealer every few years, but this does remind me that the anti-dealer movement is working its way from the top down. Saturn feels like a long time ago.

3rd Gear: VW ID.4 Isn’t Selling Well In China

We’ve long been waiting for major manufacturers to muscle in on Tesla’s market, but so far it’s been a bit difficult to make a beachhead. VW is incredibly heavily invested in going electric, but its very plain cars are having a hard time. At least they are in the world’s largest market for electric cars, China, as Reuters reports:

Sales of two ID4 electric SUVs, the ID4 X and ID4 Crozz, were just 1,213 combined in May. And that was about 200 fewer than in April, according to auto consultancy LMC.


The sources blamed the less than auspicious debut on a lack of smart tech features, fierce competition, a late launch compared to Tesla and Chinese EV makers as well as hiccups with its new EV sales network.

“Sales so far are behind our earlier expectations. We’ve had to dial down production plans for the ID4 again and again,” said one person, who like the other sources was not authorized to speak to media and declined to be identified.


4th Gear: Let Mazda Just Have A Moment, Please

Mazda is perpetually going through it, and now it has some new chip shortage problems at hand, as Reuters reports:

Mazda Motor Corp. said on Wednesday that it will suspend production at a factory in Japan for a total of ten days in July due to a chip shortage.

The automaker’s Hofu Plant No.1 in Yamaguchi prefecture, located in southwest Japan, will halt production between July 5 and 9 as well as July 12 and 16.


5th Gear: Jaguar, A Real Car Company, Is Still At It

I remain amazed that Tata has not pulled the plug on Jaguar after axing its all-electric XJ right before going into production. The company is still planning for some kind of future, though, according to the Financial Times:

In his first newspaper interview since joining the carmaker in September, [Thierry Bolloré] the former Renault boss also said JLR was close to announcing plans to source batteries for electric vehicles from the UK.

Bolloré is charged with turning round the storied British carmaker, which was overtaken by Nissan last year as the country’s largest producer and has deep problems with its technology and overlapping product range.

A strategy overhaul announced in March will involve the reinvention of the beleaguered Jaguar brand as an electric-only luxury competitor from 2025, while the company will ditch traditional engines by the middle of the next decade. 


Reverse: Elon’s Spiral Begins


Neutral: Will You Be Watching F9 In Theaters?

I live in Brooklyn, so if I want to see people revving and crashing crackle-tune Dodge Chargers I just walk outside. What about you?


Idiot who sold e39 m5

Neutral: No. There is almost no reason to watch movies in theaters anymore when I can watch them a few months later from the comfort of my couch. With TVs now supporting Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, there is less reason than ever.