The Fast and Furious drama came, well, fast and furious over the last couple of days, and a new twist has been added to the mix. To recap: Universal pushed the release date of Fast and Furious 9 back a year, Tyrese Gibson took to Instagram to blame Dwayne Johnson, Universal set the Johnson/Jason Statham spinoff for release on Fast 9’s old release date, and Shane Black is now in the mix to possibly direct that film. And this is all just in the last 48 hours.
But while the Fast 9 release date has been delayed, that doesn’t mean Universal is putting the brakes on the sequel. On the contrary, THR reports that Justin Lin is the top choice to direct what could be the penultimate movie in the franchise, and he’s one of the reasons for the delay. By pushing the Fast 9 release date back a year, that gives Universal more time to accommodate Lin’s scheduling and ensure he can return to the franchise that he helped grow to the $1 billion grossing juggernaut it is today.
Indeed, Lin made his Fast & Furious debut helming Tokyo Drift, the third installment. He then directed each successive installment through Fast & Furious 6, after which he left the franchise to try new things. Those new things included helming the first two episodes of True Detective Season 2 and the blockbuster sequel Star Trek Beyond, and he’s currently developing a couple of high-profile directing projects including Space Jam 2 and the Hot Wheels movie.
Universal and self-appointed franchise king Vin Diesel have long stated that the Fast & Furious franchise may tap out after 10 movies, so bringing Lin back into the fold on Fast 9 makes a lot of sense. Moreover, given his history with the franchise, I wouldn’t be surprised if he returns to direct the final film, Fast & Furious 10, as well. That is, assuming Universal doesn’t try and find some way to keep this series going.
The last two films made over $1 billion at the worldwide box office, so this is clearly one of Universal’s most important franchises (especially since that whole Dark Universe thing was DOA). But of course they could wrap up Fast & Furious while continuing to build out spinoffs, like the Johnson/Statham one hitting theaters in 2019.
We’re still probably a ways off from the close of the main Fast & Furious franchise, but if that is where Universal is heading, Lin is a sensible choice to direct Fast 9.