FAST & THE FUTURE
WORDS I REYNALDO C. LUGTU JR.
More than a year ago, “Furious 7,” the latest installment of the “Fast & Furious” franchise, broke a global record by becoming the fastest film ever to hit the one billion-dollar mark at the box office, making it the seventh biggest film of all time.
It was also one of the most successful and lucrative film franchises, with gross worldwide sales of $3.537 billion for the seven films, with only $844 million budget, and average worldwide box office receipts of more than 40%.
Why is this film series so successful, and what can businesses learn from it? Here are business lessons we can glean from the highly acclaimed franchise:
Specialize on a product that can be reused and repurposed.
The veneer of the “Fast & Furious” film series is all about street racing, shiny and powerful cars, fights and explosions, and lovable criminals. But at the heart of it is the relationship between Brian (Walker) and Dom (Diesel), and the brotherhood and family among its crewmembers. These describe the “Fast & Furious” product platform that captured a cult audience in its initial installments, but eventually reused and repurposed by the producers to come up with a winning series.
The “reuse and repurpose” concept is common in other businesses, such as software versions and automobile models using the same chassis, but in different variants. This approach allows marketers and businesspeople to learn from the earlier releases of the products to make better versions and variants in the future. The key is coming up with winning elements and features of a product that consumers will buy and patronize.
This approach allows marketers and businesspeople to learn from the earlier releases of the products to make better versions and variants in the future. The key is coming up with winning elements and features of a product that consumers will buy and patronize.
Know your target market or audience.
The producers of the “Fast & Furious” series are obviously targeting the Gen-X and Gen-Y by packaging it with hip soundtracks, youthful and active characters, and adventurous lifestyle. They were not making the movie to be everything to everyone – a common pitfall among many brands and products.
The film series also targeted a wide range of cultures by casting different nationalities and tapping into Hispanic and Latino music, reaching and relating more to a wider audience globally.
Act fast and furiously.
After the first movie installment in 2001, we have seen seven sequels over a 14-year period. That’s one film every two years, making it one of the fastest releases among movie franchises. Apart from that, a team of producers, characters, writers, directors, and other support staff step in and out of production and furiously churning out one winning film after another.
The consistent product platform that can be reused and repurposed coupled with focused targeted market allow the movie franchise to swiftly assemble various teams to work on the next successful sequel.
Adjust when unforeseen situations happen.
The untimely departure of Walker during the filming of “Furious 7” necessitated completing his role with a combination of methods old and new. Apart from rewriting the script and soundtrack adjustments, a digitized version of Walker’s face was superimposed on the body of his two look-alike brothers.
Businesses face unforeseen circumstances such as a natural disaster, departure of a key personnel, or political shifts. But it’s crucial to have a back-up plan, a plan B, to mitigate potential risks.
Have a team that work well, very well together to execute.
Producer Neil Moritz, when asked about a sequel after “Furious 7” said: “Would we love to make another one? Sure, because we all like working together, and we love the fact that we have characters that people love, a world that’s been created.”
On- and off-screen, the cast of “Fast & Furious” truly treat each other as family, especially between main characters Walker and Diesel. Both display a chemistry that viewers love because they are best friends off the screen. I will talk about this concept of “clicking” together as a couple, may it be in business and personal life, in my next article to describe its value in running a business or achieving a goal. But the key here is having a team that works well together to execute a plan.
This article was first published in Manila Standard Today under the Greenlight column, April 26, 2015.
The author is a senior executive in the information and communications technology sector. He is the Chairman of the ICT Committee of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX), and Chairman of SME Market Development for the FINEX Foundation for Entrepreneurship, Inc. (FFEI). He teaches strategic management in the MBA Program of the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business, De La Salle University. He is also an adjunct faculty of the Asian Institute of Management. He may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at www.reylugtu.com.