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Fast Five and Django Unchained

Gail Choice | 5/4/2011, 5 p.m.

There's something about fast cars, and hot men . . . box office receipts just don't lie.

Universal's "Fast Five," starring Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, plowed through all the competition with the biggest box-office opening of the year, and it was actually bigger than originally estimated.

Final figures released Monday showed that "Fast Five" ended the weekend with $86.2 million, about $2.6 million more than was reported Sunday. Playing at 3,644 locations--with no 3-D gimmickry--the film surpassed "Lost World: Jurassic Park" ($72.1 million) as Universal's biggest opener ever. It was also the biggest opening for an April release, besting Universal's "Fast and Furious" from two years ago.

"Fast Five" is a reunion of sorts; the cast includes returning all-stars from every chapter of the heart-pounding franchise. And if that's not enough, Dwayne Johnson joins the cast along with Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Tyrese Gibson, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Matt Schulze, Tego Calderon, Don Omar and Jordana Brewster.

The movie starts where it left off; Brian (Walker) and Mia (Brewster) break Dom (Vin Diesel) out of custody and end up in Rio. And they have to pull off a doozy of a caper in order to gain their freedom. But guess who's determined to stop them in their tracks, hard-nosed federal agent Luke Hobbs (Johnson). The stage is set for fast cars, hijinks, and loads of drama. I truly feel the need for speed.

"Fast Five" is now playing, don't let it get away.

The Internet is all a buzzed because of a rumor involving director Quentin Tarantino and his latest foray into Black culture. It seems Tarantino, who gave us "Jackie Brown," starring Pam Grier and Samuel Jackson, is now focusing on the Old West with the Spaghetti Western "Django Unchained."

Apparently Tarantino told reporter Anne Thompson he'd like to do for Black people what he did for Jewish people; Tarantino is referring to his much acclaimed film, "Inglorious Basterds." He continued, "I'd like to do a Western. But rather than set it in Texas, have it in slavery times. With that subject everybody is afraid to deal with. Let's shine that light on ourselves."

The Wrap has confirmed that Tarantino already has completed the script for his long-awaited Spaghetti Western, and is preparing to shoot it with Christoph Waltz in a lead role. Walz, who won an Oscar for playing Nazi Col. Hans Landa in Tarantino's "Inglorious Basterds," will play something of a good guy in "Django Unchained."

The title appears to be a nod to Sergio Corbucci's 1966 "Django," about a gunslinger who rescues a woman from bandits. But if Tarantino is true to form, his movie will bear little resemblance to Corbucci's film. In "Django Unchained" the lead character is a former slave, who joins forces with the character Waltz plays in order to save his wife from an evil plantation owner.

The big question is who will play the lead role? Because the movie is set in slavery times it goes without saying the actor has to be old enough to be 'wise' to the world he lives in and young and agile enough to be able to kick butt without fear. In a film like this, writing and directing won't make the film. It will have to be character-driven; a lot will fall on the actor's shoulders. And I would not be surprised if the Black actor who wins this role could potentially become a major player in Hollywood ... a James Bond type. America is ready for this kind of larger-than-life character.

At this time, Tarantino has not even verbalized who he has in mind for the role. You can bet all eyes will be on him, and rumors will abound. No doubt it will be a 'juicy' groundbreaking role that will generate a lot of publicity.

Gail can be reached at gail@hollywoodbychoice.com.