Distributors and production companies with movies starring Paul Walker are scrambling to figure out how best to proceed in light of the star’s tragic death in a car crash Saturday. There are three films in the marketplace right now. While Hours, which bows in two weeks, centers on Hurricane Katrina and a father struggling against time and the elements to keep his newborn daughter alive, Universal’s Fast And Furious 7 and Relativity/EuropaCorp’s Brick Mansions both feature high-speed car chases and crashes — an unfortunate coincidence that will be tough for marketers to navigate.
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In one of the action scenes in Brick Mansions, Walker is driving at high speed and crashes through a big glass building in a van in an effort to dodge his pursuers. The trailer and other marketing materials are now being created, but it will be impossible to remove the action sequences or its star from the trailer, EuropaCorp tells me. The marketing for the movie, about an undercover cop trying to take down a crime lord, is Walker-centric. Asked how it might handle marketing, EuropaCorp, which is financing the $20 million film, said it was too early to say. “All I know is that we are doing our best to maintain the schedule as it is,” said chief marketing officer Fabrice Denizot. “What happened to Paul is devastating and we don’t want to push anything, and just want to take the time and do this right.” He added: “We are working hand in hand with Relativity on the marketing right now. There is no way we can take Paul out of the trailer. All we can do is deliver the best movie we can in his honor. We are fine-tuning the editing right now.”
“Paul is the big movie star in our movie — it is built around him. Paul is in about 80% of the scenes,” said Christophe Lambert, CEO of EuropaCorp. “We are still in shock so it’s very difficult for me to respond. We are devastated as a team. We need a bit of time. For sure it’s going to be one of the last big movies of his life and it’s Paul at his best.”
A test screening this week has been postponed and has not been rescheduled. Walker had finished his looping on the film only three days ago, so all postproduction involving him is complete. Brick Mansions is currently scheduled for a February 2014 release domestically via Relativity, which declined comment.
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Fast And Furious 7, meanwhile, is about halfway through its production in Atlanta, and more filming was planned for the Middle East early next year, sources said. Universal execs were meeting today to figure out how best to move forward.
Walker’s next film is the Peter Safran-produced Hours, which will be released December 13. Marketing materials have already gone out, so it’s not clear how the producers might adapt over the final two weeks before release.
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Dominic Patten contributed to this report.