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The "Fast & Furious" franchise is a perpetual moneymaker for Universal, but could it be ready to hang up its racing tires? That's the new speculation from Deadline, which also writes that longtime "Fast" director Justin Lin is being courted to return to the series for its final outing.

According to the site, Lin -- who directed "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift," "Fast & Furious," "Fast Five," and "Fast & Furious 6" -- is widely considered the favorite to direct "Fast & Furious 8," taking over from "Furious 7" helmer James Wan. Wan has already signed on to direct "The Conjuring 2," taking him out of consideration for the "FF8" job, and Lin is a logical replacement -- especially now that there's a gap in his schedule following news that his Aaron Cross movie with Jeremy Renner is being pushed to accommodate a new Jason Bourne film starring Matt Damon.

But could Universal really be pulling the plug on "Fast & Furious" following an eighth outing? While Deadline's report is sketchy at best about that possibility, it would make sense for the studio to retire the franchise after the sudden death of series star Paul Walker last November. Much of "Furious 7" needed to be rewritten and re-shot after Walker's passing, and it remains to be seen how his storyline will fare in the latest outing; Universal may want to greenlight an eighth film to tie up any loose ends in the franchise, then send it out to the big racetrack in the sky.

Then again, the "Fast" films have been such huge moneymakers -- and interest in the franchise seems to only have intensified since Walker's death -- that it wouldn't make much financial sense to end it now. And if Lin, widely considered to have given new life to the series, does indeed return -- and potentially stays with the franchise for other future films -- then Universal would have no reason to pull the plug.

We'll have to wait until the debut of "Furious 7" -- and an official announcement about the potential "Fast & Furious 8" -- before we know anything definitively. Stay tuned.
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