Exclusive: Producer Neal Moritz Talks FAST & FURIOUS 6, 7, and Beyond; Confirms James Wan Is Directing FAST 7 and Says The Rock Will Return

by     Posted 1 year, 183 days ago

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As we approach the release of the sixth film in the Fast and Furious franchise, it’s a bit crazy to think that the series is actually at the top of its game this far in.  The worldwide box office total of 2011’s Fast Five doubled that of the second-highest grossing entry in the series, Fast & Furious, and now director Justin Lin’s Fast & Furious 6 is poised to be one of the biggest films of a very crowded summer.

Steve recently spoke with producer Neal Moritz for an extended interview, and during their conversation he talked extensively about what fans can expect from Fast & Furious 6 as well as the progress on the very fast-moving Fast & Furious 7, which was recently announced for a summer 2014 release.  Moritz confirmed that James Wan will be directing the next installment and talked about why they chose the Saw director to step into the franchise, and he also assured us that Dwayne Johnson will indeed be returning.  Hit the jump for much, much more.

neal-moritz-fast-furious-6With regards to Fast & Furious 6, Moritz has very high praise for the finished product:

“It’s the best of the series.  We had one test screening on this movie and over 90% of the people in the audience said it was as good or better than Fast Five, with the majority of them being better.  It just delivers, there’s incredible action, there’s a fantastic villain, but the spine of the movie is that relationship between Vin and Michelle.  When she comes back and how that throws everything into havoc, it’s just fantastic.  It’s just a really, really good emotional story between the two of them and it’s really the backbone.”

Moritz added that Fast 6 has not one, not two, but three major action set pieces:

“We have two or three of the best action sequences you will ever see.  The scene where you saw the tank on the freeway, that sequence is incredible.  The taking down of the big plane at the end of the movie is incredible, and then there’s a sequence early on that we call ‘Team vs. Team’ through the streets of London which is incredible.”

Late last month, franchise stalwart Vin Diesel suggested that filming on the seventh installment in the series could begin as early as this summer.  Dwayne Johnson subsequently told Steve that he’s set to shoot Hercules this summer, so he might not be able to return to the Fast franchise should Universal move so quickly on the follow-up.  Well, the studio did announce a July 11, 2014 release date for Fast & Furious 7, and Moritz confirmed that filming will indeed begin this summer:

“Yes, we are gonna film this summer.  We have been talking about it for quite a while, because while we’re making any of the Fast movies we’re always talking about what could happen in future Fast films.  So it’s something that we have been talking about for quite a while.”

Though Johnson may have to do some serious schedule finagling to fit both Fast 7 and Hercules in, Moritz says The Rock will most definitely be back:

“[Fast & Furious 7] is a new chapter, but The Rock will be involved as well.”

While the franchise is officially continuing on past Fast & Furious 6, director Justin Lin (who has helmed four Fast films in total) has opted to step away from the franchise.  A shortlist of possible directors surfaced online shortly after Lin’s decision was made public, but Universal made a bit of a left field choice by tapping Saw and Insidious director James Wan to step in and take the reins for Fast 7:

“[Wan is] a terrific, terrific director at the top, top of his genre.  He’s done everything you could do in the genre he’s been working in, and as he said to me the other day, everything he has trained himself within that genre has been so he could take the next step up into something like Fast & Furious… I’ve always been a fan of his, he’s one of the people that we initially had on our list as a possible replacement, but I can just tell you when he came in and told us what his vision was, when he left the room we all looked at each other and said ‘That’s our director.’”

paul-walker-vin-diesel-fast-furious-6Steve asked Moritz if the franchise might possibly end after Fast & Furious 7 or if the producer could see it continuing on, and he seemd optimistic about the endless possibilities for the future of the franchise:

“I really think that people are really interested in these characters, and we’re lucky enough to have developed so many characters with so many storylines that the biggest hindrance of this franchise is the fact that we just don’t have enough screentime to service all the characters in this movie.  There’s just so many interpersonal relationships between so many people in the movie, there’s just a lot of different ways to go.  So we’re just continually working to develop good stories with good characters and have a lot of their stories interweave constantly and sprinkle a lot of great action in between.”

While there had been talk about Johnson’s Hobbs character getting his own spinoff film, Moritz said they’re currently just focused on Fast & Furious 7.  It’s tough to blame them, since they now have just over a year to deliver the next installment of what is currently one of the most popular film franchises in the world.

Read the transcript of Steve and Moritz’s conversation regarding the Fast & Furious franchise below, and look for more of Steve’s interview with Moritz tomorrow.

vin-diesel-michelle-rodriguez-fast-furious-6Question: I didn’t think you were going to go bigger than Fast Five, but it looks like you did it.

NEAL MORITZ: It’s the best of the series.  We had one test screening on this movie and over 90% of the people in the audience said it was as good or better than Fast Five, with the majority of them being better.  It just delivers, there’s incredible action, there’s a fantastic villain, but the spine of the movie is that relationship between Vin and Michelle.  When she comes back and how that throws everything into havoc, it’s just fantastic.  It’s just a really, really good emotional story between the two of them and it’s really the backbone.  We have two or three of the best action sequences you will ever see.  The scene where you saw the tank on the freeway, that sequence is incredible.  The taking down of the big plane at the end of the movie is incredible, and then there’s a sequence early on that we call “Team vs. Team” through the streets of London which is incredible. 

We usually have like two big action set pieces and then a number of small set pieces, well this one we have three big set pieces and a number of smaller action sequences as well including a fantastic fight between Michelle Rodriguez and Gina Carano which is the best girl fight to ever be put on film, in my opinion.  We also have another great fight between Joe Taslim from The Raid and Sung Kang and Tyrese, which is a fantastic fight.  So we have a lot, a lot of stuff in this movie.  The locales are terrific, Justin did an amazing job shooting it, and we couldn’t be more excited.  Honestly, I can just tell you when we had that test screening it was one of the highlights of my career.  We keep upping the ante obviously, and luckily we’ve been able to keep delivering.

tyrese-gibson-fast-furious-6How tough was it to put that whole cast together and make it happen?

MORITZ: Very.  They’re all very tough.  We’re about to start on Fast 7 now and that’s no easier, so they all present huge challenges.  But it’s all good.

That’s another thing I wanted to ask you about.  Vin had been teasing, “We’re gonna start filming this summer,” and then you guys announced at CinemaCon that you were gonna release Fast 7 next summer.  So are you really filming this summer?

MORITZ: Yes, we are gonna film this summer.  We have been talking about it for quite a while, because while we’re making any of the Fast movies we’re always talking about what could happen in future Fast films.  So it’s something that we have been talking about for quite a while.

There’s talk that James Wan is directing.  Is that confirmed?

MORITZ: Yes, yes it is.

I spoke with Dwayne Johnson recently and he mentioned to me that he’s filming Hercules starting next month and he’s going to be doing that for a while.  I haven’t seen Fast 6, but I imagine that the end of that movie is going to possibly present a new chapter for the gang.  So is The Rock back for the seventh or is it a new chapter for everybody?

fast-furious-6-vin-dieselMORITZ: It’s a new chapter, but The Rock will be involved as well.

The franchise seems to be getting bigger and bigger with each subsequent movie.  Could Fast 7 be the end or is this something where as long as the audience and the story is there you can keep on making them?

MORITZ: I really think that people are really interested in these characters, and we’re lucky enough to have developed so many characters with so many storylines that the biggest hindrance of this franchise is the fact that we just don’t have enough screentime to service all the characters in this movie.  There’s just so many interpersonal relationships between so many people in the movie, there’s just a lot of different ways to go.  So we’re just continually working to develop good stories with good characters and have a lot of their stories interweave constantly and sprinkle a lot of great action in between.

Dwayne said to me—and I think you said to me a year or two ago—that the plan originally was to get Hobbs his own film.  Is that still on the drawing board?

MORITZ: Right now we’re concentrating on Fast 7.

Obviously you’re raising the stakes so high with Fast 6.  How challenging is it now to even be on that same bar with Fast 7 or do you guys feel confident that you have a storyline that can top it?

fast-furious-6-paul-walker-jordana-brewsterMORITZ: It’s as challenging as Fast 6 was after Fast Five.  So, I mean, we didn’t really know how we were gonna top it, we just worked hard and tried to figure out how to do it.  But I feel like it’s a very similar situation, honestly.  I think when people see Fast 6 they’re gonna be blown away and wanting more in Fast 7.

I’m a huge fan of James Wan.  I think he’s actually an underrated director.  I don’t think people realize how hard it is-

MORITZ: He’s a terrific, terrific director at the top, top of his genre.  He’s done everything you could do in the genre he’s been working in, and as he said to me the other day, everything he has trained himself within that genre has been so he could take the next step up into something like Fast & Furious.

Were you early on thinking about James or did he come in and pitch you and you were like, “Oh yeah, he’s the guy?”

MORITZ: I’ve always been a fan of his, he’s one of the people that we initially had on our list as a possible replacement, but I can just tell you when he came in and told us what his vision was, when he left the room we all looked at each other and said “That’s our director.”

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