Few modern tentpole series have survived long enough to endure the highs and lows that the Fast & Furious franchise has gone through. After a somewhat rocky adolescence, the series really hit its stride during the fifth and sixth installments (Fast Five and Furious 6, respectively) under director Justin Lin, and then achieved new commercial heights thanks to James Wan's Furious 7 this year.
Riding high on such a hot streak, one would imagine Universal would have no trouble finding a director for the series' eighth outing. Guess again, it would seem, as the latest report on the subject claims that recruiting a director for Fast & Furious 8 is proving to be a difficult task for Universal.
As noted by THR, both Lin and Wan have signed on for separate projects -- Star Trek Beyond and The Conjuring 2, respectively -- that are currently filming and will prevent the directors from being able to work on Fast & Furious 8 (which need to begins shooting in the first half of 2016). Universal has also reached out to other Hollywood directors, such as Jaume Collet-Serra (Non-Stop) but have so far been unable to get anyone to sign on the dotted line, it would appear.
Reportedly, one of the more complicating factors in the matter is franchise star Vin Diesel himself. The actor/producer has a reputation for nitpicking details within the franchise, and remains insistent on his own involvement in the development process for the next film in the Fast & Furious series. Despite Universal's obligation to consult Diesel on their choice for director, the actor does not actually have a say in the final decision.
Diesel has confirmed in the past that Furious 7 marks the beginning of a third (final?) Fast & Furious movie trilogy - one that will next move to New York, by the sound of it. Universal and Diesel seem all the more interested in maintaining a level of directorial consistency between the next two installments, and it was even previously reported that Lin was being eyed to commit to Fast & Furious 8 and 9 from the get-go. That may be another factor in why the next chapter hasn't locked down a helmsman at this juncture (read: the long-term commitment has made some filmmakers hesitant).
Where Fast & Furious 8 goes with its director search next - that remains to be seen. Universal may seek out an indie filmmaker, hoping for a repeat of the success it saw handing Jurassic World over to director Colin Trevorrow - though, 20th Century Fox learned the hard way that doesn't always work, with Fantastic Four. Wan was new to the world of big-budget fare when he directed Furious 7, but had already been making films for some ten years by that point - meaning, Universal could again hand the series over to a similar veteran, rather than a "rookie". There's still time (given the current deadline), but Universal needs to make their decision sooner than later.
Though, in a dream world, it would be cool if Mad Max: Fury Road's George Miller was a realistic option to direct Furious 8, yes?
Fast & Furious 8 will open in U.S. theaters on April 14, 2017.