The death of Paul Walker — an obviously key figure in the mega-sequel (and franchise) “Fast & Furious 7” — makes the future of the movie and series completely unclear. Production on the James Wan directed movie was supposed to continue this week in Atlanta following the Thanksgiving holiday, and additional filming with the entire cast in Abu Dhabi in January. Clearly, things are in flux and while this past weekend a conference call between suits and director tried to figure out how they salvage the film and honor the memory of Walker, it seems everyone is still weighing their options. But until then the set has been cleared.
Universal Pictures has officially announced they are stopping filming on the sequel. Here’s their statement:
Right now, all of us at Universal are dedicated to providing support to Paul’s immediate family and our extended Fast & Furious family of cast, crew and filmmakers. At this time we feel it is our responsibility to shut down production on Fast & Furious 7 for a period of time so we can assess all options available to move forward with the franchise. We are committed to keeping Fast & Furious fans informed, and we will provide further information to them when we have it. Until then, we know they join us in mourning the passing of our dear friend Paul Walker.
So where do things go from here? The Wrap reports that options are still being assessed but one that’s a possibility is scrapping the film entirely and starting over. The project has insurance to cover such an incident, so money is not an issue, though the bigger question seems to be how to proceed in general. Do they keep the character of Brian O’Conner in the movie and re-write and work around it? Remove him entirely? Sources seem to be split on the viability of any of those choices though the trade notes “many of Walker’s key scenes remained to be shot” before he passed.
Either way, it’s clear this won’t be released next summer and a final decision on the fate of the movie and series will likely be carefully considered before any formal announcements are made.