Justin Lin, James Wan & The Future Of “Fast 7″
With the tragic and unexpected passing of Paul Walker over the past weekend, Universal is left with the difficult task of deciding what to do with “Fast & Furious 7,” the next installment of the popular franchise in which Walker has starred as Brian O’Conner since it’s debut in 2001.
I was in the audience at this year’s CinemaCon when Vin Diesel took the stage at the Universal presentation, announcing that “Fast 7″ was headed for July 2014 release date, a speedy nine months after “Fast & Furious 6″ was scheduled to hit theaters. Diesel, who was joined by Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Gina Carano, Sung Kang, Tyrese Gibson, and producer Neal H. Moritz, said there were definite reasons for justifying the quick turn around time for the movie, briefly explained it would be closely connected to “Fast 6,” charismatically promising the audience the seventh installment would be “the biggest one of all.”
Noticeably absent from the Universal presentation was director Justin Lin, helmer of the franchise since it’s third installment. At the time of the convention Lin was furiously working on the finishing touches for “Fast 6″ which was slated to hit theaters the following month, on May 24th, 2013.
Just a few days prior to the convention, Lin told the studio this would be his last time directing a “Fast & Furious” movie due to franchise exhaustion, and differences of agreement on the accelerated timeline for “Fast 7″ according to THR. Lin leaving the franchise eventually made way for horror genre director James Wan to step in and take on directorial duties for “Fast 7″ which went into production in September.
Now that production on the film has halted, Universal is faced with making the difficult decision on how move forward with “Fast 7″ – and the future of the franchise – without fan favorite, Paul Walker.
Though the studio could resume production, replacing Walker with another actor, or adjusting the script to continue the movie without him, the most interesting option on the table involves Universal starting from scratch, which stimulates many a question for film fans, like myself. If Universal decides to approach this situation by completely starting over, is James Wan still the best choice to direct? Or should the studio consider bringing back Justin Lin? As the director of the last few installments, would Lin be a better fit to wrap up loose ends and plot lines from “Fast 6″ that will now certainly require adjustments when “Fast 7″ goes back into production? Especially if “Fast 7″ ends up being the last chapter of this franchise altogether? And if so, would Lin be interested in returning to the franchise to rework the next installment now that a rushed timeline is no longer an issue?
Either way, Universal has quite the challenge in front of them over the next few weeks, where many important decisions will surely need to be made.
Where do you stand on the matter? Would you be interested in seeing Lin return to the “Fast & Furious” franchise, and how do you think the studio should proceed?
Join the conversation in the comment section below.