The ever-evolving story over who will direct the forthcoming (and eighth) Fast and Furious entry may be all wrapped up. Resolution may have finally come following a meeting that occurred last night with franchise star Vin Diesel and director F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton). Following that meeting, a picture was posted on Diesel’s Facebook page of himself alongside Gray, speculating that Gray had won the job. Gray was also, supposedly, the first choice for distributor Universal Pictures, not shocking considering their summer success with Compton.
It Gray’s participation comes to fruition, it will end what has been a rough few weeks for the franchise. With pre-production on Furious 8 approaching, Universal has had tremendous difficulty signing a director for the project. James Wan (The Conjuring), director of the billion dollar grossing Furious 7 turned down the offer to return (along with, allegedly a handsome raise). Wan is readying The Conjuring 2 and allegedly clashed with Diesel during production of Furious 7– a film that had many challenges, primarily the unexpected death of franchise star Paul Walker in the middle of production.
Justin Lin (who directed Fast and Furious entries 3-6) was also considered a hopeful for the studio to tackle Furious 8, but instead moved on to Star Trek Beyond. Other possibilities for the job were Louis Letterier (Clash of the Titans) and Adam Wingard (The Guest) and franchise original helmer Rob Cohen (an alleged personal favorite from Diesel). Diesel, at one point, even put the suggestion out there that perhaps he himself was the man for the job.
If the deal with Gray does indeed go through, it will surely mark one of the biggest features in the director’s twenty year career. Gray’s first feature was the 1995 hit Friday. Since then, he has directed an eclectic mix of films including Set it Off (1996), The Negotiator (1998) and the Vin Diesel starrer A Man Apart (2003). Gray’s handling of the chase scenes in the 2003 Mark Wahlberg-Charlize Theron feature The Italian Job will likely come in handy for Furious 8, as perhaps would the confidence of following up a nearly $200 earning blockbuster like Straight Outta Compton with a film likely to earn four times more.
We shall stay tuned to the latest.