Furious 7 was not just another critical success for the Fast & Furious movie franchise, it also reached new (billion-dollar) heights at the global box office. A followup to the film, tentatively known as Fast & Furious 8, is already in development for a Spring 2017 theatrical release date - though, it doesn't have a director attached, just yet.
Fast & Furious 3-6 director Justin Lin and Furious 7 helmsman James Wan are currently working on other projects (Star Trek Beyond and The Conjuring 2, respectively) that will prevent them being able to work on Fast & Furious 8 by the time that it will need to enter production. Series lead Vin Diesel has already promised fans that a worthy candidate will be recruited for the job - though, Diesel has since launched a social media-based push for his own pick of director on the next Fast & Furious installment.
The filmmaker in question is Rob Cohen, who directed the original Fast and the Furious that started the franchise, in 2001. Diesel teased the idea to his millions of followers on Facebook by posting a picture of himself alongside Cohen and the late Paul Walker, at a premiere for the first Fast and the Furious. The actor later elaborated on the idea in a lengthier post, which include the following paragraph that made reference to Cohen:
Back to the matter of 8… First and most importantly is the SCRIPT, which has to be great. Hopefully the writer will deliver something within the next two weeks… before my Witch Hunter press tour begins. There has always been the desire by Paul to have Rob direct one more, this is what fueled my campaign… I believe that he can and would reset the franchise nicely, returning to what was the core of the film in the beginning... racing. He would also handle the Brian O’connor issue with integrity, given that he and David Ayer were the ones who initially created that beloved character in the first place.
Diesel, in his Facebook posting, also highlights Lin's role in planning out the new Fast & Furious movie trilogy that Furious 7 set in motion - a trilogy that is expected to close out the franchise after nine (!) installments - and teases that his own mother had encouraged him to direct Fast & Furious 8 himself ("I wrote it off as just a mother’s love and belief in me...").
Nevertheless, Diesel quietly acknowledged that even if he really wanted to call the shots on the movie, it simply wouldn't be feasible - given that he's currently promoting his fantasy/adventure film The Last Witch Hunter (which opens in a few weeks, at the time of writing this). Thereafter, Diesel has said he is going to be reprising his XXX role as the extreme sports athlete-turned secret agent Xander Cage when XXX3 begins production around December 2015. Pre-production on Fast & Furious 8 should be moving full-steam ahead by that point in time, as Universal Pictures will want a director locked down before the year is done (in order to keep the project rolling down the assembly line on schedule).
Cohen, who last collaborated with Diesel on the original XXX in 2002, has spent the last decade making films that span genres ranging from supernatural fantasy/adventure (The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor) to sci-fi action (Stealth) and crime drama/thriller (Alex Cross), among others. While Cohen's movies have generally embraced the same pulpy tone that he established with the original Fast and the Furious - which has carried through to later installments - he is not as well-regarded a genre director as either Lin or Wan, at this point in his career. As such, Cohen's return to Fast & Furious 8 doesn't per se sound as promising as, say, Lin or someone of equal standing calling the shots.
Then again, the Fast and the Furious movie franchise is a well-oiled machine at this point - with people like Diesel, producer Neal H. Moritz, and writer/producer Chris Morgan working to make sure each new film meets the same quality bar - and Cohen, as Diesel did point out, has a history with the series that could help with guiding the property to the finish line. Either way, an update on the situation should be arriving sometime in the near future.
In the meantime - who's *your* dream pick to direct Fast & Furious 8?
Fast & Furious 8 opens in U.S. theaters on April 14th, 2017.
Source: Vin Diesel