After the tragic, horribly ironic death of Paul Walker in a car crash in November of last year, the fate of Universal's "Fast and Furious" franchise, which has become one of the studio's most dependable and profitable properties, was very much up in the air.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards
At the time of Walker's death, the movie was only halfway done with filming, and had a summer 2014 release date looming. Universal decided to finish the movie with director James Wan and the original cast, and shifted the release date from summer 2014 to April 10, 2015. Now The Hollywood Reporter says that the production will resume shooting this April. The wheels have started spinning again.
The sequel, which follows last year's tremendous "Furious 6," includes original cast members Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel, Ludacris, and Michelle Rodriguez, plus new cast members like Jason Statham, Kurt Russell (!), Tony Jaa, and Djimon Hounsou. Most interestingly is the fact that Lucas Black, who starred in the "Fast and Furious" one-off "Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift," will be reintegrated into the franchise. (I love how labyrinthine the "Fast and Furious" "mythology" has become.) Plans are still for the movie to "retire" Walker's character instead of kill him. It's very clear that Wan and writer Chris Morgan have been working since Walker's death on just how to sort this all out and have it make any sense in the context of the movie.
It's unclear what other plot deviations are in store. When the movie resumes production, it will be in Atlanta (there was some time scheduled for Dubai and other exotic locations). Hopefully, Wan will be able to bring his muscle car vision to the big screen with appropriate weight and sensitivity, given the situation. Either way: can't wait. Glad that the production is back on track and we can look forward to a new installment in the franchise in a little over a year. Vroom on!