Nearly five months after losing one of its brightest stars, James Wan’s Fast & Furious 7 will resume production, racing to meet a new release date as it works behind the scenes to honor the legacy of a founding partner.
That would be Paul Walker, who died in a car accident in November. Production on the latest Furious movie was halted in the wake of Walker’s passing, then fully stopped as the creative team behind the sequel wrestled with how to move forward. Universal entertained the notion of scrapping what was shot so that Wan could start over, possibly writing out Walker’s pivotal character. Ultimately, the studio pushed back the release date on Fast 7, and Wan confirmed that Walker’s character would "star," and get a proper send off.
THR now reports that filming on the sequel will resume on or near April 1 in Atlanta, where the cast and crew faces "six to eight weeks" of additional filming, according to insiders. Furious 7 endured rewrites to try and resolve the direction of the franchise after Walker’s death. Writer Chris Morgan reportedly combed over existing footage and tweaked the script to give Wan a path moving forward. THR says that the direction of the franchise will somehow allow Walker’s character to "retire" rather than be killed off. This will allow the series to continue without him, sad as that sounds.
It’s disturbing how we have had to engage in similar conversations on like-minded franchises following the death of high-profile celebrities. In the case of Philip Seymour Hoffman, he had a few days left of filming on the second part of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, and the studio has entertained the notion of using a digital recreation of the late actor to get the shots they need to conclude the sequel.
And one would assume that all conversations pertaining to a possible Ghostbusters 3 would cease following the death of original star Harold Ramis, but insiders at Sony have said that a script tweak could easily skim over the absence of Egon, and still pass a baton to younger Ghostbusters (which sounds like it was the plan all along).
Of all of those franchises, the Fast series is the one that stands to lose the most with the removal of Walker. He might not have brought the same heat as Vin Diesel or, obviously, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson to each installment. But Walker was a solid foundation who has carried the series since day one, and moving ahead with new adventures that don’t showcase his talents will be strange. We have a little over a year to see how Wan and his crew work around Walker’s loss. Fast & Furious 7 reaches theaters on April 10, 2015.