Could The Road to ‘Furious 8’ Force ‘Furious 7’ to be The Last Ride?
When Furious 7 hit theaters this past April, there was very little doubt that it was going to demolish the box office both at home and abroad. As expected the seventh installment of the already established global juggernaut not only surpassed industry expectations but also enjoyed record-breaking success that once again set the bar higher for the remaining films in the thriving saga.
It’s pretty safe to assume that the tragic death of star Paul Walker whose good cop gone rogue – Brian O’Connor was a core fiber of the franchise – had a lot to do with the phenomenal performance of Furious 7. Walker, died in a car crash in November 2013, and even though he had filmed most of his scenes, his sudden loss presented a massive dilemma that forced production to shut down indefinitely in order to strategize the best course of action.
During that process of grief and reflection, co-star and close friend Vin Diesel, who also serves as one of the producers of the Fast films kept fans updated through daily interactions on Facebook as he posted images and videos related to the franchise – illustrating his bond with the fallen companion he pledged to “Ride or Die” with.
Months later the announcement was made that the script had been re-worked to incorporate Brian O’Connor’s inevitable “retirement” and even more affecting was the confirmation that Walker’s two younger brothers – Caleb and Cody would stand in for their late brother to help complete his unfinished scenes. There was also the impressive use of CGI that worked amazingly well except at the very end. Despite the touching parting of ways it’s obvious the face smiling back at Dom isn’t Walker’s. But it was still a heart-wrenching moment.
Furious 7 achieved the impossible with its long-awaited debut – despite the unimaginable task of having to flawlessly deliver against all the odds, the film ended up being an enjoyable and emotional ride from start to finish and maintained all the key elements that has kept it endearingly beloved.
In the midst of the press tour and celebration, Diesel took advantage of the momentum to confirm that Furious 8 would arrive in theaters in April 2017. But as 2015 winds down, and with no director attached – since Wan is committed to directing the sequel of his 2013 hit The Conjuring – there is every reason to believe that the fate of Furious 8 is up in the air.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Wan, 38, who replaced Justin Lin, the mastermind who revitalized the franchise by helming Tokyo Drift through Fast and Furious 6 was contracted to direct the eighth and ninth films. But filming Furious 8 definitely took its toll as he not only had to deal with the pressure of stepping into a pressure cooker but also the death of his lead star. There were also rumors that Diesel didn’t make life any easier with his extraordinary demands that included mandatory late-night meetings primarily arranged to ensure that he was able to perfect his performance as Dom Torreto. Insiders divulge that Wan was so overwhelmed that he even his health was threatened.
Diesel’s reps deny there was any tension between the director and the actor/producer but regardless of the facts – the road to Furious 8 so far has been a bumpy one, which suggests whether or not it will meet its impending deadline.
It is no secret that Diesel is fully committed to completing the saga which is supposed to end with the ninth installment and even though the absence of Walker will undoubtedly change the dynamic of the future films, Universal is eager to continue riding the waves of its biggest moneymaker.
There is every reason to believe that the globally revered franchise can dutifully flourish without Paul Walker if the remaining cast members remain intact but without a director or a finished script – Furious 8 will continue to remain in limbo.
If Furious 7 ends up being the last ride (which most likely won’t be the case), at least the road was paved with pure gold.