|The logo of performance parts manufacturer Turbonetics is prominently displayed on lead character Paul Walker's Nissan Skyline in Fast & Furious.|
With Fast & Furious opening at No. 1 in its first weekend and bringing in $72.5 million in ticket sales, the automotive industry is buzzing with the anticipation that this fourth installment of the Fast and the Furious franchise will translate into the same big-dollar specialty-equipment sales that was ignited by the first movie.
The Fast and the Furious, which grossed more than $40 million in its first weekend, was the first installment of the racing series and was released in June 2001. In 2001, sales for compact-performance products totaled $2.86 billion, according to SEMA research. In 2002, total sales for the year equaled $3 billion.
Greg Neuwirth, President of AEM, a Hawthorne, California-based manufacturer of performance and racing products, recalls the increase in business that occurred the year following the release of the first movie. “There was a 25% jump in our sales,” he said. “The bump was enormous, and it was across the board.”
Jonathan Wong, editor of Super Street magazine, also recognizes the impact The Fast and the Furious had on the specialty-equipment industry. “We’re all hoping that this latest movie will have the same impact as the first movie did, which got more of mainstream America interested in modifying their cars,” he said.
Not only did Simi Valley, California-based Turbonetics Inc., a manufacturer of performance products, experience a definite boost in sales after the first film, the company saw enough potential in the latest release to invest a considerable amount of time and money to be featured in it. The result is the Turbonetics logo prominently displayed on the front of lead character Paul Walker’s blue Nissan Skyline.
Tyler Tanaka, marketing manager of Turbonetics, realizes that he cannot predict whether Fast & Furious will produce the same consumer interest in specialty-equipment products that The Fast and the Furious did, but he is satisfied just to have people inspired by car culture. “I think what’s most important is that people are talking about cars and talking about fixing cars,” he said. “It’s a positive and healthy thing for a movie about cars to pull in more than $72.5 million its opening weekend and for people to get excited about it. It’s definitely helpful for the industry.”
Neuwirth also agrees that the hype being generated by the movie can only lead to good things for the specialty-equipment industry. “Any enthusiasm that is built around cars, whether it’s tuning cars or adding to cars, can’t help but have a positive impact on our market.”
While Wong is uncertain whether the current economic situation will allow modification to be as affordable a luxury as it was when the first movie came out, with a $72.5 million opening weekend, he agrees that it is a definite possibility.
At the very least, with Fast & Furious having the highest-grossing opening for a car-themed movie, (even beating Cars’ $60.1 million, according to www.boxofficemojo.com), the specialty-equipment industry can boast that Americans do, and always will love cars, especially fast, good-looking, modified cars.