When it was first released in 2001, "The Fast and the Furious" didn't seem the stuff franchises are built on.
Set in the gritty world of Los Angeles street racing, the movie boasted flashy action sequences but had no muscle-bound superheroes, suave spies or supernatural teens. The actors in its ensemble — Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez — weren't stars who most people would recognize on the street.
But producer Neal Moritz was confident the film would resonate with audiences. He'd seen how it played at the first test screening in Chatsworth, where as he recalls moviegoers "went crazy" for the movie.