Paul Walker's Posthumous Popularity Spikes

Meriah Doty
Yahoo MoviesDecember 23, 2013

It's been almost a month, and yet the untimely death of Paul Walker continues to reverberate — the newest development being that the late star will indeed retain top billing in "Fast & Furious 7," which is now set to open in spring 2015, nearly a year later than originally planned.

Since his death, interest in the blond, blue-eyed actor has soared and attention on Walker's film and television legacy is at an all-time high.

Walker was the most searched person on Yahoo this month, eclipsing Yahoo's No. 1 top-searched person of the year, Miley Cyrus, by 300 percent. Walker also spiked in Google searches when news broke that he died in a tragic car accident. And on the day of his death, Nov. 30, searches for Walker on Yahoo climbed a mind boggling 366,155 percent — by far the top searched term on Yahoo.

[Related: Paul Walker Still Headlining ‘Fast and Furious 7,’ Now Opening in 2015]

In the week following Walker's death, DVD and Blu-ray sales of all of his films had an overall increase of 35 percent. And during that period, the "Fast & Furious" titles in which he starred had an increase of 25 percent, alone, Rentrak reports.

"Fans of the 'Fast & Furious' franchise and Walker clearly wanted to see the work of their beloved star as they remembered him on the big screen," Rentrak media analyst Paul Dergarabedian tells Yahoo Movies.

Similar activity was seen on Amazon, where sales of "Fast & Furious 6," released on DVD and Blu-ray earlier this month, have also started to surge, a source at the site tells Yahoo Movies. "Fast 6" saw a 121 percent daily increase in sales rank on Amazon on Dec. 17 — just one example. And a revival in popularity of older Walker movies, like "Varsity Blues" and "She's All That," quickly climbed Amazon's charts.

In the weeks following his death, people searching on Yahoo were most interested in Walker's work, the fate of "Fast 7," and the friendship he left behind with co-star Vin Diesel. Top related search terms also reflected interest in his older titles — "Varsity Blues," "Into the Blue," and "She's All That" — as well as his earlier television work on "Who's the Boss?" and "The Young and the Restless." All of these Walker-related searches jumped off the charts in that period.

[Related: Paul Walker's Daughter Surfaces to Attend 'Justin Bieber’s Believe' Premiere]

"Fast & Furious 6" just unseated "The Wolverine" from its No. 1 position, opening at No. 2 in sales and rentals, according to Rentrak. It has sold nearly 3 million units so far, just behind "Despicable Me 2" — this year's No. 3 highest-grossing film and a tough act to beat for "Fast 6," which ranked at No. 7 at the box office.

The fan and curiosity factor seemed to have the most dramatic impact on rentals when the public learned of Walker's passing, according to Rentrak. DVD and Blu-ray rentals of all Walker titles increased 150 percent compared to the week prior to his death.

[Related: Paul Walker's Mother to Vin Diesel: 'You Lost Your Other Half']

As for the top ranking Walker title on Amazon right now. Yup, it's a rental: "Fast 6." Go figure.

—Lauren Whitehouse contributed to this report.

Watch 'Fast & Furious 6' Final Trailer:


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