Furious 7 is continuing its box office domination whilst heading into the third weekend on the big screen. Whilst its second weekend propelled the blockbuster to $800 million, Forbes has tipped a likely $1 billion dollar box office close as the film races towards the finish line.
Before that happens and the dust settles though, Super Street Magazine has gone behind the scenes with Dennis Mccarthy. Dennis is picture car coordinator for Furious 7, the latest in the Fast and Furious film franchise. To put it simply, his job is to buy, build, and oftentimes wreck cars for a living. It’s a job he’s done for every Fast film, beginning with 2 Fast 2 Furious, along with around 40 other major motion pictures (Herbie Fully Loaded, Live Free or Die Hard and Dumb and Dumber To, to name a few). And this time around, he has his work cut out for him.
“We sourced about 300 cars for Furious 7,” Dennis begins. “The vast majority didn’t make it back here.” The first thing to know about movie cars is that there are multiple versions made of nearly every one seen on film. Cars designated “first unit production,” or “halo” cars are the real deal. These can be sourced from actual owners or built by Dennis and his team. They get the most detailed camera time, and only actors can sit in them. The rest are built to be driven in action scenes, wrecked, set on fire, or whatever the situation calls for. Most of the destruction this time around occurs right after that C-130 drop, in the “snatch and grab” scene where Dominic Toretto, played by Vin Diesel, and his boys blow the doors off a Setra bus, as seen in the first official trailer for the film. “We built and crashed about 10 Mercedes G-Wagons for that scene. We also built 14 Mercedes S500 sedans, six Jeep Wranglers, maybe six STIs, a ton of classic Chargers and new Challengers…even the Setra bus we built seven of,” he continues.
But that’s not to suggest the film doesn’t get off to an explosive start. It very literally does. And after the dust clears, Vin Diesel’s character wheels an orange ’70 Plymouth Roadrunner to confront the film’s protagonist-Owen Shaw’s older brother, played by Jason Statham, driving a Maserati Ghibli and bent on revenge for the death of his brother in the previous film-with a game of chicken that neither car wins. That was one of Dennis’ favourite cars to build for Furious 7, along with the black ’70 Charger that mirrors the iconic car from the first film and a black ’70 Plymouth Barracuda that Letty, played by Michelle Rodriguez, drives. “They remind me of something I would’ve built for myself back in my street racing days,” he laughs. “But I might’ve had a few other tricks up my sleeve.”
As much of the film is set (and was shot) in Abu Dhabi, there’s also no shortage of high-dollar exotics, like the Lykan Hypersport; the Middle East’s first supercar, produced by W Motors in nearby Dubai. Retailing for a cool $3.4 million U.S. dollars, at the time of writing this, it’s the third most expensive car on earth. However, Dennis sourced six for production, all stripped down from the factory to bring the price down to affordable levels. “Sadly, none of those survived filming,” Dennis confesses. “When you see the ‘car jump’ scene, you’ll understand why.”
But what about the imports? It’s no secret the franchise has grown more domestic and exotic over the years; is there no love for Japanese tuning? “My goal is to always have a wide variety of performance cars,” Dennis explains. “A vintage GT-R might be one fan’s favorite, a Bugatti Veyron another’s. And a lot depends on the evolution of the characters. Dom’s ’96 RX-7 was perfect for him in the original film, but once he drove his dad’s supercharged Hemi Charger out of the garage, there was no going back.” He goes on, “But we’ll continue to bring out cars like the Skyline, GT-R, WRX, and others that may prove to be tomorrow’s classics.” Of the imports in Furious 7, there’s one that stands apart from the rest; a clean, white 2JZ Supra on BBS LMs. A glance over the manifest shows it was the only one sourced for production. “That was one of Paul Walker’s personal cars,” Dennis explains. “You’ll see Paul’s character Brian O’Conner drive it in a scene that really means a lot to all of us.”
Furious 7 is currently playing in cinemas worldwide.
– This post originally appeared on Super Street Magazine.