Dominic Patten contributed to this report
UPDATE, 11:33 AM: Sources involved in Fast & Furious 7 said there are no plans to scrap the franchise after star Paul Walker‘s tragic death Saturday in a car crash. And that makes business sense: The franchise is one of the most lucrative in Hollywood, having already made more than $2.4 billion for Universal. The sixth installment, released this past summer, made almost $789 million worldwide at the box office. It is too early to determine whether the production will recast or rewrite and all options are being considered. The film, which was filming in Atlanta, has roughly 50% of that location shoot completed. Other locations for the film were set for the Middle East.
PREVIOUS, 10:20 AM: Universal Pictures has formalized something that seemed obvious since the weekend. The studio has indefinitely postponed production on Fast & Furious 7 following the tragic death of Paul Walker in a car accident that occurred while the cast and crew were on a holiday break. I’ve seen reams of web speculation, even one traffic grabber that the studio might scrap the film, and wow it all seems so creepy to me. Work on the half-done production would have resumed two days ago. The studio, the director James Wan, writer Chris Morgan and producer Neal Moritz have just begun trying to figure out what to do to keep this billion-dollar franchise alive.
It seems fairly obvious the film will not make its July 2014 release date, and it also feels highly unlikely they will shoot a foot of film before the end of this year. Beyond allowing a mourning period for the traumatized cast and crew to get past the death of an actor who I’m told was the kind of guy who knew the names of everybody on set, there are major creative hurdles to overcome here. It is laudable of the studio and filmmakers to factor all of these variables and take the time to make the right decision before bringing everyone back to work. I don’t think there is a chance that the studio would abandon the franchise, as has been speculated elsewhere. Here is a formal statement by the studio:
“Right now, all of us at Universal are dedicated to providing support to Paul’s immediate family and our extended Fast & Furious family of cast, crew and filmmakers. At this time we feel it is our responsibility to shut down production on Fast & Furious 7 for a period of time so we can assess all options available to move forward with the franchise. We are committed to keeping Fast & Furious fans informed, and we will provide further information to them when we have it. Until then, we know they join us in mourning the passing of our dear friend Paul Walker.”