Since the resurrection of The Fast and the Furious franchise in 2009, no other film has brought in more money for Universal, who is enjoying a record year. The eighth chapter to the franchise was green-lit earlier this year in April after Furious 7 went on to gross $1.5 billion worldwide. Fast 8, though, has hit a snag in production due to the ongoing search for a new director to take over.
James Wan directed the seventh installment, and at one point was set to return for future films but dropped out to work on the sequel to his 2013 horror film, The Conjuring. Before Wan, Justin Lin helmed the franchise, directing four films (3-6) in the series. But after Fast and Furious 6, Lin opted to direct the next Star Trek film.
Universal apparently wanted Wan to return desperately after losing Lin, that they offered him a hefty pay raise return but he declined due to the difficult production of the seventh film. The production of Furious 7 was turbulent with its massive budget ($200 million), high expectations and the death of Paul Walker. Production had to halted and heavily altered. Walker’s brother was brought on to finish the Brian O’Conner story arc in order to send off the fan-favorite character gracefully.
James Wan also may have clashed with actor and producer Vin Diesel about creative decisions with in the films. Diesel, the face of the franchise since the first film all the way back in 2001, has been a driving force behind the revitalization of the franchise. With the exit of co-president of production Jeffrey Kirschenbaum, one of the key studio figures in the success of the franchise, Universal has its time cut out with the release date looming near. Universal plans to stretch out the Fast and Furious franchise for at least three more movies. The remaining cast is set to return with Chris Morgan at work writing the script for the film.
Fast 8 is slated for an April 2017 release. We will stay tuned to future developments.