There are many benefits to following Vin Diesel on Facebook (his official page is currently at over 70 million “Likes”), which include semi-daily inspirational advice from the actor, photos that encourage you to exercise more, and occasional updates on his developing projects. Thanks to Vin, we know that there’s a new installment in the XXX franchise being written, a fourth Riddick movie is being discussed, that Vin still wants to make his Hannibal the Conqueror film, and that his supernatural action/thriller The Last Witch Hunter is slowly, but surely, beginning to make its way down the pipeline again.
It was reported a month ago that Fast & Furious 7 would restart production – following the death of Diesel’s costar Paul Walker – by the start of April or end of March, which Diesel has alluded to on his FB page. Today director James Wan (The Conjuring) posted an image of a slate board from the movie (via Instagram), so as to formally announce to the franchise’s many fans out there that production is back underway.
Walker reportedly shot a good chunk of his scenes as Brian O’Connor prior to his premature death, all of which involved non-action sequences. Therefore, in order to complete the character’s arc in the film, the word is that CGI and body doubles will be utilized during the spectacle-driven (no pun) portions of the movie, with additional changes having been made to the script in order to provide Walker’s character with a chance to properly bow out from the franchise.
One of the motifs of the Fast & Furious franchise is the importance of communal bonds that cross the barriers of blood, race, culture, and background, a la modern definitions of family; that makes Walker’s passing all the more unfortunate, as the actor embodied that philosophy both on-screen and through real-world deeds. Nonetheless, life must go on, and the Fast & Furious series is following suit, beginning with the seventh installment linking together the events in the fourth through six Fast & Furious movies with the “odd man out” of the franchise (a.k.a. Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift), before laying the foundation for more films – through characters like that being played by Kurt Russell, who is getting a simple introduction this lap around.
Speaking of franchises, it sounds as though there’s potential for one in the basic premise for Last Witch Hunter. The project doesn’t have an official green-light yet, but (assuming it eventually gets one) it’s slated to star Diesel as an immortal witch hunter, who has been spent centuries battling the evil sorceresses of the world. That’s before, in the present-day, he is forced to become unwilling partners with a witch, in order to stop a coven based in New York City from unleashing a dangerous plague.
The next step in casting for Last Witch Hunter will be to find Diesel’s costar, but first it appears the project will be getting a rewrite. THR is reporting that Oscar-nominee Melisa Wallack – co-writer of the Snow White retelling Mirror, Mirror and Oscar-winning Matthew McConaughey drama Dallas Buyer’s Club – will polish the current Last Witch Hunter script; whether the rewrite will be substantial enough to earn her final co-writing credit, remains to be seen.
Onboard to direct Last Witch Hunter is Breck Eisner, whose resume include the globe-trotting adventure Sahara (a largely-forgotten McConaughey vehicle released during the aughts) and horror remake The Crazies; neither project is widely unpopular, yet they aren’t generally regarded as being much more than (mostly) passable by their respective genre’s standards. Perhaps the combination of Diesel as the lead and Oscar-nominated writing talent will give Eisner the proper hit that’s eluded him to date – though, first Diesel needs to get through completing the remainder of the F&F7 shoot, before deciding on his next undertaking (be it Last Witch Hunter or something else).
Fast & Furious 7 opens in U.S. theaters on April 10th, 2015.
We’ll keep you posted on The Last Witch Hunter as more status updates are made available.