The making of Fast & Furious 7 was happening on an accelerated pace to meet next summer’s July 11 release date, but now the movie has come to a complete stop.
The unexpected and tragic car-crash death of Paul Walker has led Universal Pictures to put a hold on the movie in mid-production. Donna Langley, chairman of universal Pictures, told EW this week, “We have half a movie shot and we are working through it.”
The studio has now decided to call a halt.
“Right now, all of us at Universal are dedicated to providing support to Paul’s immediate family and our extended Fast & Furious family of cast, crew and filmmakers,” a studio rep announced today in a statement. “At this time we feel it is our responsibility to shut down production on Fast & Furious 7 for a period of time so we can assess all options available to move forward with the franchise.”
Of course, nothing matters as much as the loss of life from Saturday’s accident, which killed not only Walker but his friend, Roger Rodas, who is believed to have been driving the vehicle. But when an actor dies in the middle of making a movie, most filmmakers try to figure out a way to preserve as much of that final performance as possible. It tends to be something fans appreciate as well.
For instance, when Heath Ledger died in the midst of making Terry Gilliam’s fantasy The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Jude Law, Johnny Depp, and Colin Farrell stepped in to finish the film, and the story was rewritten to state that his character’s appearance changes whenever he passed through a magic mirror.
Producer Neal Moritz said yesterday that at least part of the decision about what to do with the scenes Walker had already finished will be made in consultation with his survivors. He stressed that they didn’t want to rush into anything.
“We wouldn’t make any rational decisions right now,” he said. “We want to see what the family wants to do. We want to do what best honors Paul.”
In its statement today, Universal promised fans they would try to be transparent about their plans for the beloved film series: “We are committed to keeping Fast & Furious fans informed, and we will provide further information to them when we have it. Until then, we know they join us in mourning the passing of our dear friend Paul Walker.”
Contributing: Nicole Sperling