Universal Pictures took to CinemaCon this week to preview their upcoming films. Two of their most buzz-worthy announcements came from the two franchises that dominated the box office in the beginning of 2015, Fifty Shades of Grey and Furious 7. Both films broke multiple records and proved their staying power within Universal’s future landscape.
Universal started with some big news for the Fast and Furious franchise. The films’ star Vin Diesel revealed their plans to greenlight Furious 8, which they’ve already set for an April 14, 2017 release. Diesel called attention to his and the late Paul Walker‘s appearance at CinemaCon in 2013, citing the support of the fans and the buzz of the convention as a driving force in their journey. “You helped make this magic,” Diesel commented, “can I get your blessing again?”
While Diesel confirmed that an eighth installment will exist, he didn’t give away any plot ideas or details. Many have speculated that it will again involve the original cast along with Kurt Russell‘s Mr. Nobody character who was introduced in Furious 7 (for some of mxdwn Movies’ ideas about where the franchise will be going, read our Let’s Talk About… ‘Furious 7′ feature). Regardless of content, Diesel repeated the promise he has made to fans throughout the entire Fast and Furious series, “[they] are going to make the best movie you’ve ever seen.”
Another big announcement from Universal came from the two next installments of the Fifty Shades adaptations. The company has set, Fifty Shades Darker for a February 10, 2017 release, and Fifty Shades Freed for February 9, 2018. Universal likely feels confident in this February (i.e. Valentine’s Day) slate after it proved to be lucrative the first time around.
Fans have already been treated to a couple other tidbits concerning Fifty Shades Darker (outside of its available reading material). Stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan will both be returning as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, and the novels’ author E.L. James will have an even closer connection to the sequel as her husband Niall Leonard will be handling the screenplay adaptation. Also, Universal just released the image of Dornan in the above photo preparing for Darker‘s masquerade ball. This image is just a tease for the film’s first trailer which will be released next month as a part of Fifty Shades of Grey‘s bonus DVD/Blue-Ray features.