Paul Walker's death continues to send shockwaves through the film industry, creating ripple effects that are temporarily derailing upcoming franchises.
The 40-year-old actor, as you likely already know, lost his life in an automobile accident Saturday afternoon in Southern California. Walker was in the passenger seat of a car that lost control and hit a post or a tree. He was attending a charity event for his personal organization Reach Out Worldwide.
Professionally, Walker also was in the middle of filming James Wan’s Fast & Furious 7, and the future of that 2014 summer blockbuster sequel now seems to be in doubt. The Wrap reported on Sunday evening that shooting originally scheduled to take place today, Dec. 2, in Atlanta has been cancelled as Wan, producer Neal Moritz and executives at Universal Studios tried to figure out how to proceed after Walker’s death.
The Wrap reports that Walker was scheduled to be part of the scenes filmed in Atlanta. And they go on to say that the Furious crew was scheduled to film in Abu Dhabi later this month, but "it now seems extremely unlikely that the cameras will roll as planned." This confirms news Nikke Finke Tweeted over the weekend that filming on F&F 7 was far along, and the cast was "on holiday" when Walker was back in California.
And it was TMZ that quoted sources close to the Fast sequel saying that "most of this week's scenes centered around [Walker]," so even if Wan wanted to move ahead with production, the script "would need major rewrites."
That likely will be the course of action. The Hollywood Reporter definitively states that the seventh installment in the lucrative franchise "will not be abandoned entirely," but reiterated how important it was for the entire Fast & Furious team to move forward "in a manner that would be respectful to Walker’s death." And that’s the right course of action. While Furious co-stars Vin Diesel and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson have helped elevate the profile of the Furious series in recent years, it was Walker who helped keep the series afloat in its earlier days, carrying 2 Fast 2 Furious when Diesel moved on to other projects, then giving Vin a counterpunch in the later, better installments to the long-running series.
For now, Fast & Furious 7 retains a July 11 release date. But as THR notes, the sequel already was on a tight schedule to reach that date, and "any delay in production could impact that release date." A shift on Universal’s schedule seems likely. We’ll continue to bring you updates on F&F 7 as the team behind the sequel continues to figure out how to move forward in the wake of this Hollywood tragedy.