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Yesterday Fast and Furious fans received good news and bad news. A new spinoff film starring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham was announced, while the release of Fast and Furious 9 was delayed. While it appeared that the sequel was being pushed back to make room for the spinoff, it seems that may not be the entire story. It may actually be the case that spinoff was brought in because Fast and Furious 9 needed to be delayed, in order to allow director Justin Lin to come back to the franchise.
The perspective has been that the planned spinoff movie, that has been rumored ever since we saw Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham on screen together in The Fate of the Furious, was pushing the next sequel down the release calendar in order to make room for itself. However, The Hollywood Reporter claims that it might actually be the other way around. They claim that Justin Lin, who directed Fast and Furious 4-6, might be looking to return to the franchise, and that Fast and Furious 9 is being pushed back to accommodate Lin's schedule. The spinoff is being moved onto the calendar in order to keep the franchise going in some form until part nine is ready.
While this is little more than a rumor at this point, it's one that certainly fits. Justin Lin is quite busy these days. He's currently attached to direct both a Hot Wheels movie as well as the announced sequel to Space Jam. He's also involved in producing everything from the upcoming to CBS series S.W.A.T. to the announced Highlander reboot. There's also the question of whether he might return to direct the next film in the current Star Trek series, since a large part of the reason he stopped working on the Fast and Furious franchise in the first place was to direct Star Trek Beyond.
Justin Lin has a lot of irons in the fire so bringing him back could certainly require pushing movies back to make the time. It also wouldn't be too shocking to hear the studio would like to bring Lin back. While The Fate of the Furious had no problem in the box office department, many viewed the latest entry as a step down for the franchise. Lin was the man at the helm when the series really came into its own, so the studio may be looking to him to bring it back.
One wonders if Justin Lin might be capable of handling all of the egos involved in the Fast and Furious movies. The production of the last film saw a very public feud between Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson. More recently, we've seen Tyrese Gibson make public comments that he's very unhappy that Johnson is moving forward with the spinoff movie. Regardless, the Fast and Furious franchise continues to drive on, with the spinoff planned for July 2019 and Fast and Furious 9 now set for April of 2020.