Fast & Furious 8 Director Shortlist; F. Gary Gray Is the Front-Runner [Updated]

Fast & Furious 8 potential directors meeting Vin Diesel

Universal Pictures' Furious 7 grossed over $1.5 billion at the global box office this year, while also providing what is generally agreed to be a touching send-off to the Fast & Furious series' late star, Paul Walker. In addition, Furious 7 was designed to serve as the beginning of the final Fast & Furious movie trilogy - which is to say, development on Fast & Furious 8 has been happening for a while now, going back to well before the seventh film's record-breaking run in theaters.

Furious 8 does not have a director officially attached yet, largely because the two filmmakers responsible for the last five installments in the franchise (Justin Lin and James Wan) are both currently preoccupied with making other tentpole projects. Fast & Furious star/producer Vin Diesel has already voiced a desire to see Fast and the Furious director Rob Cohen return to the series, but it appears that Universal has narrowed its preferred Furious 8 director shortlist to four other candidates altogether.

THR is reporting that Diesel will meet later this week (at the time of writing this) with three potential Furious 8 directors: Adam Wingard, Louis Leterrier, and F. Gary Gray. Meanwhile, The Wrap is reporting that Gray is currently the front-runner to secure the job.

UPDATE: Diesel has posted a picture of himself with Gray on his Facebook page following their meeting (see below), furthering cementing Gray's status as the front-runner to direct Furious 8:

Posted by Vin Diesel on Monday, October 5, 2015

That's pretty easy to believe, too, since Gray has directed both Diesel and Fast & Furious star Dwayne Johnson (who is confirmed to return as Agent Hobbs in Furious 8) before, on the 2003 action movie A Man Apart and the 2005 Elmore Leonard novel adaptation (as well as the Get Shorty sequel) Be Cool, respectively. Variety is reporting that Will Eubank (The Signal) is also in the running for the job, along with the aforementioned trio, so no final decision has been made regarding Gray (or the others) yet.

Ice Cube and Dr. Dre with Straight Outta Compton director F. Gary Gray
Ice Cube, F. Gary Gray, Dr. Dre and the Straight Outta Compton cast

Gray is also fresh off the critical/commercial success of his N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton for Universal, which certainly doesn't hurt his chances of landing the Furious 8 directing job. Furthermore, Gray is an experienced genre filmmaker with noteworthy features like The Negotiator and The Italian Job under his belt; the latter movie in particular effectively blends heist genre elements with vehicular thrills and character drama, similar to Fast & Furious installments Fast Five and Furious 6. Suffice it to say, there's a good reason Gray has made the cut on most lists of potential Furious 8 directors that've been published online recently.

Leterrier is no slouch in the genre filmmaking department either, with solid (and high-octane) crowd-pleasers such as The Transporter, The Incredible Hulk, and Now You See Me under his belt; though, Leterrier's action films tend to lack the substance that Gray's directorial efforts typically have. Wingard, by comparison, is something of a surprise choice, as his tends to specialize in retro horror throwbacks like You're Next and certain segments of the V/H/S films. Then again, between his horror work and his mystery/thriller The Guest (likewise a genre throwback), Wingard's career brings to mind Wan's output, pre-Furious 7. So, in that respect, maybe he's not such a surprise candidate after all.

Louis Leterrier directing Morgan Freeman in Now You See Me
Louis Leterrier directing Morgan Freeman in Now You See Me

Eubank is the dark horse Furious 8 director candidate on the list right now, with only the little-seen sci-fi drama/thrillers The Signal and Love to his name. It is certainly possible that whatever Eubank has in mind for the Fast & Furious franchise will align well enough with Diesel's to give him an edge over the competition. However, for the time being, Gray sounds like both the most promising contender and the one in the lead for this job - though, Leterrier and Wingard are intriguing picks to take on this action franchise, in their own ways.

How about it - of these four names, who do you hope to see direct Fast & Furious 8?

NEXT: Fast & Furious 8 Producer On Continuing the Series Without Paul Walker

Fast & Furious 8 opens in U.S. theaters on April 14th, 2017.

Source: The Wrap, THR, Variety

Update Source: Vin Diesel

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