One of the most lucrative non-superhero franchises around, the Fast and the Furious series was supposed to continue this past summer with Furious 7. However, that production became a very tumultuous undertaking for director James Wan, as he dealt with the passing of star Paul Walker and an inflating budget - among other "unprecedented challenges."
Nevertheless, Furious 7 (watch the trailer) is finally done and is set to hit theaters next April. While fans of Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his "family" are excited for another go-around, the current circumstances have raised some doubts over their future. Last year, Tokyo Drift star Lucas Black signed on to appear in Fast 8 and Fast 9, but there's been no word on the developments of those projects since then (for obvious reasons). Today, though, a new report states that Universal is planning for the series to go out with a bang.
Deadline is claiming that filmmaker Justin Lin (who has called the shots on four Fast films) is being pegged by the studio to helm a "multi-part production" that will serve as the finale for Universal's most profitable tentpole. Their sources indicate that the project will span multiple films, but other details are unknown at this time.
The business strategy of releasing the final chapter of a Hollywood franchise in two parts is most prevalent in the young adult adaptation genre (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, etc.) but is starting to leak into other types of films as well (The Avengers: Infinity War). From a commercial perspective, it makes sense for Universal to go this route, but if it's the best decision creatively is open for debate at this juncture.
Regardless of the nature in which the production is broken up (two separate stories, one narrative split), it's a promising development for followers of the series that the studio is pursuing more Fast films. Last year's Fast & Furious 6 became the highest-grossing installment to date ($238.6 million domestically) and finished in the top ten for the 2013 box office. For many aspects, it has the attention of several moviegoers, so there will be many looking forward to the conclusion.
The only question remaining is whether or not Lin will have the time to work on Fast 8, but it doesn't look like scheduling will be an issue here. The director has been tapped to helm the first two episodes for season two of True Detective (with production beginning this fall), but his planner is free beyond that.
At one point, Lin was slated to make the Bourne Legacy followup (featuring Jeremy Renner's Aaron Cross) for a 2016 release date, but a lot has changed since then. Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass are reuniting to produce a new movie with the Jason Bourne character for July 2016; a move that influenced Universal to push the Legacy sequel back to an unspecified later date. As far as we know, Lin is still going to make that film, but for now he'll be looking for something to pass the time until then.
Lin is a strong choice to drop the curtain on the Fast series (if this really is the end) since he is arguably its most prolific director; not only have the last two entries broken the bank in terms of ticket sales, they've also received the best critical reaction of the six films so far. Lin knows how to play in this world very effectively and his return would most likely be well-received by most fans.
Furious 7 will be in theaters April 3, 2015.
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisAgar90.