It's slightly vulgar to consider the fate of the Fast & Furious franchise and the upcoming Fast & Furious 7 in the midst of the tragic death of one of the film's stars, Paul Walker. Life, however, does go on, but Universal is appropriately taking time to reflect on what will become of the seventh film, deciding to officially halt production, which was supposed to begin this past Monday in Atlanta.
Here's the studio's official statement:
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.
From what I understand, about half of the film was finished with production scheduled to head to Atlanta this week and then to Abu Dhabi in January, but according to The Wrap one option is to scrap everything that has been done so far and start over altogether. The question then, of course, still remains... What do you do with Paul Walker's character?
I discussed this recently with a friend and we both agreed it would be in very poor taste to kill his character off and the idea of replacing Walker with a different actor playing Brian O'Conner seems equally distasteful.
The best case scenario is to find some way to have Brian forgo involvement in whatever is set to take place in the next film, ride off in the sunset with Mia (Jordana Brewster) and their child and let that be the last of it. Vin Diesel can even have a line in the film, "Even I don't know where they are. This is Brian's choice and I respect it."
Every audience member at this point obviously understands the delicacy surrounding the issue and that a person's life is worth respecting over a little plot deception in a movie franchise designed around ridiculous stunts and fast cars. The franchise will never be the same, that's just something everyone from the execs to the fans will have to understand.
I expect we'll hear something more in the coming weeks, or perhaps not even until the beginning of the year, and I suspect that July 11, 2014 release date will be pushed.