Once Justin Lin, the director on the Fast and the Furious franchise since Tokyo Drift, announced that he is stepping away on Fast and the Furious 7 (a.k.a. Fast & Furious 7), it didn't take long for Universal to begin searching for a replacement; indeed, just a few days later, three accomplished directors were named as possible candidates for the job.
Today we have an update on the situation, and it appears that Fast and the Furious 7 could be be directed by someone whose name is new to this conversation: horror filmmaker James Wan, best known for directing the first Saw installment and the low cost/big returns spooky sensation Insidious.
Deadline is reporting exclusively that Wan has begun negotiations to direct Fast and the Furious 7, with the current expectation that a deal should be finalized before the week is out - and the filmmaker has since posted a short message on Twitter, confirming this much to be true. Universal is bringing back screenwriter Chris Morgan (who scripted the previous four installments) and the franchise's stablemate producer Neal H. Moritz, but Wan is going to have to jump head-first into production in order to meet the demand for a Summer 2014 release date.
Fast & Furious 6 is currently ranked number four on Fandango's Most Anticipated 2013 Summer Movies poll, arriving two years after Fast Five generated the strongest reviews for the high speed racing-turned heist franchise yet, and brought in an unprecedented $626 million worldwide in theaters.
As the Screen Rant Underground Podcast crew discussed this week, the decision to rush Fast and the Furious 7 (sorry, these racing puns are hard to avoid) obviously makes sense from a business perspective, but hurried sequels has a pretty spotty record in terms of quality. Even though the sixth and seventh Fast and the Furious movies are, technically, not being shot back-to-back (a la the second and third installments in Back to the Future, Matrix, and Pirates of the Caribbean), it's close enough to beg comparison - given how events that transpire in Fast & Furious 6 are rumored to feed directly into the plot for the seventh movie (with a post-credits scene that introduces the next villain).
This was (undoubtedly) a motivating factor in Universal's decision to approach Wan about directing Fast the Furious 7, given his demonstrated ability to work quickly, efficiently and, perhaps most importantly, effectively; after all, he churned out the horror film Dead Silence and the vigilante action-thriller Death Sentence within a five-month period back in 2007, and will release his spookfest The Conjuring this July followed by Insidious Chapter 2 some two months later.
Wan is accustomed to working on smaller-budgeted fare, but he has people like Moritz and Morgan (who's executive producing, in addition to writing) to guide him along while filming Fast and the Furious 7. The question of creative freedom is something to consider, meaning that Wan probably won't be straying far (if at all) from Lin's approach on the franchise.
It might not seem important for a series that, as many of its fans will gladly tell you, is all about the vehicular stunts, spectacle and racing sequences that shatter the laws of physics. However, I'd rather Wan be allowed to bring more of his own ideas and style to the table, rather than being forced to tow the line - and end up with a stale blockbuster on par with Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, where director Rob Marshall delivered a water-down variation on what Gore Verbinski had done with the previous installments.
What do you think of Wan directing Fast and the Furious 7? Let us know in the comments section!
Fast & Furious 6 opens in theaters on May 24th, 2013.