We learned from Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson that Fast & Furious 6 and 7 would not shoot back-to-back well before the sixth installment had started production. However, it was only a few days ago when the franchise's longtime star Vin Diesel announced that Universal wants to get the cameras rolling on Fast & Furious 7 this Summer - in order for the (final?) adrenaline-fueled racing/heist series installment to reach theaters a year later in 2014.
The natural assumption (at that time) was that Chris Morgan had written the Fast & Furious 7 script for Justin Lin to direct, given that both men have been working on the series for seven years - going back to Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift in 2006 - and "changing horses" is a bad idea at this juncture, considering the small amount of time Universal has set aside for pre-production.
Heat Vision is reporting that Lin has informed the studio that he won't direct the seventh Fast and the Furious movie, on the basis that its "aggressively accelerated [production] timetable" won't allow him the proper time to finish editing Fast & Furious 6 and complete pre-viz work on the followup - without having to rush both processes and be satisfied with sloppy results, that is.
This frees up Lin to pursue another project as his next directing effort. Indeed, for all we know right now, the possibilities might include the gestating Terminator 5 and Highlander reboot - both of which Lin was circling before moving onto Fast & Furious 6 (and currently need a director) - or the comedy Subdivision, which he is producing.
Meanwhile, Universal is expected to announce Lin's replacement on Fast & Furious 7 as soon as next week, in order to keep things moving forward on schedule.
There have been similar instances of directors not bowing down to studio heads demanding they hurry a tentpole sequel down the assembly line in recent memory, including when Gary Ross passed on directing The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Rupert Wyatt skipped on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes due to those sequels' overly-hurried production timeline. Heck, over-demanding producers and ill-prepared projects are rumored to be at the heart of what really prompted Lynne Ramsay to abandon ship so abruptly on Jane Got a Gun (and that was just a low-budget non-sequel).
Of course, you always have to remember that Hollywood is a well-oiled machine and, in this case, Universal has probably been working on a backup plan (based on the assumption that Lin would pass on Fast & Furious 7) for some time. It does seem like a shame that Lin won't be allowed to properly complete the story he's set in motion, but that, as they say, is showbiz for you...
Fast & Furious 6 opens in regular and IMAX theaters on May 24th, 2013.
We'll keep you posted on Fast & Furious 7 as more information is released.