NEW DELHI: Hollywood star Vin Diesel says people have grown up with the "Fast and Furious" franchise, which is why it was important for the team to ensure that the ninth chapter is part of the return to the theatrical experience.
"Fast & Furious 9" or "F9", which marks director Justin Lin's return to the long-running action series, is all set to release in theatres worldwide on June 25. Diesel, who has been the face of the franchise since its inception two decades ago, said he has always believed that the film is best suited for theatres.
The 53-year-old actor said no one would have anticipated how the pandemic was going to impact human interaction, and that makes the film's theatrical release more special.
"It feels incredible to be a part of something that will bring the world together. I think we as a society never anticipated we'd be losing by not being able to be entertained together as a community," Diesel said in a global press conference via Zoom, of which PTI was also a part.
The actor spoke fondly of people watching previous "Fast & Furious" movies in a packed theatre with their family, friends and loved ones and making a holiday out of it.
"To be part of the return to the theatrical experience is something that feels so right, and something I feel so proud of, and to do it with my family that has been doing it for two decades, is a dream come true," he added.
Diesel said they would have never guessed that they would be doing an international press conference 20 years ago but they have now built a relationship with fans globally.
"I think the greatest difference is when the first film came out. You had no idea who these characters were. You had no idea about what world you were entering when you came to the theatre to see this movie.
"Now people feel as though they have grown up with this saga. People feel like this is their franchise."
The actor said every time they begin a new installment, the first question that comes to their mind is "how do we reach higher? How do we dazzle the audience, or engage the audience even more?" Director Lin, who previously directed four consecutive installments -- "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" (2006), "Fast & Furious" (2009), "Fast Five" (2011), and "Fast & Furious 6" (2013), said they were always committed to the theatrical experience.
He said the pandemic has made the film "more timely" and credited Universal Pictures for holding on to the release and working out the right strategy to bring the film to theatres.
"We were actually very committed to the cinema experience. I thank the studio for this," Lin said.
"I've been fortunate enough to make TV shows and indie movies and there are things that are okay to watch on at home, but not this ('F9'). That was so important to us and to have a partner in Universal that realised that and acknowledged that, it means everything," he added.
Asked about returning to the franchise after a long gap, Lin said he may not have directed recent chapters but he stayed in touch with Diesel and the rest of the team.
"I didn't want to come back unless it was for the right reason," he said, adding that the film evolved during his discussion with Diesel.
The idea, he said, was to push the envelope on the high-octane action sequences that fans of the franchise have come to expect.
"What I love is that every time we get to do one of these we earn it.
It means that people want to see these characters and their journey continue.
What's really special about F9 is that we now have eight other chapters, and there's a lot of unanswered questions that I think we get to really explore.
"I feel like we've kind of finally earned the right to really look back a little bit, and all our characters have something that they have to kind of come to terms with or make a decision before they can move forward," the director said.
The film also stars Michelle Rodriguez, John Cena, Jordana Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel, Sung Kang, Helen Mirren and Charlize Theron.