Aside from the grief the folks behind Fast & Furious 7 are feeling due to Paul Walker‘s death, they’re also facing a conundrum. As we reported earlier this week, production has been delayed as the studio, producers, and director James Wan figure out how to proceed. According to The Wrap, one of the options they’re considering is to scrap the whole production and start over. Filming was over halfway finished, but they hadn’t shot many of Walker’s key scenes. While this may seem like a costly proposition for a blockbuster feature, the studio is insured and so Universal doesn’t have to worry on that front. The larger concern is how to keep the franchise rolling while still respecting the fans and Walker’s legacy.
Hit the jump for more. [Update: Universal has released an official statement saying that production on Fast & Furious 7 has been shut down indefinitely. Read the full statement after the jump.]
Here’s Universal’s official statement on the matter, followed by our original story:
Right now, all of us at Universal are dedicated to providing support to Paul’s immediate family and our extended Fast & Furious family of cast, crew and filmmakers. At this time we feel it is our responsibility to shut down production on Fast & Furious 7 for a period of time so we can assess all options available to move forward with the franchise. We are committed to keeping Fast & Furious fans informed, and we will provide further information to them when we have it. Until then, we know they join us in mourning the passing of our dear friend Paul Walker.
There are multiple options and none of them are easy. If they restart, they could cut out O’Conner entirely, which would be awkward and somewhat disrespectful. There would have to be expository dialogue explaining his absence and it would hang over the entire picture. Anything anyone could say would be translated as “Paul Walker died and we had to do this without him.”
Another possibility is trying to figure out how to rework the scenes Walker already shot and the scenes he had yet to shoot. Since we don’t know the scenes he completed, we don’t know how vital they are to the story, and more importantly, we don’t know if they can find a way to keep at least some of them. There’s also the possibility of using a body double. Personally, I think this might be the best way to go because I think fans want to see Walker on the screen one last time. They want to say good-bye too.
Thankfully, The Wrap reports, “Right now the conversation has veered away from the notion of using special effects to put Paul Walker’s face on someone else’s body, which is certainly possible.” That would be awful on multiple levels. First, the technology isn’t there yet, and it would look terrible. Second, it would be half of a performance. The actor wearing Walker’s face is still part of the equation.
There’s also the problem of having a movie about street car racing, and Walker died in a fiery car crash, but there’s no way around it. Ultimately, some audience members are going to cringe. But they’re going to see the movie no matter what, so the only question is how to handle O’Conner’s absence/reduced role and Walker’s death tastefully. As I said, there are no easy answers here, and I have no idea how Universal intends to make their scheduled release date, July 11th.
While the filmmakers puzzle over how to move forward (one source told The Wrap a decision is days away, and another said it will take weeks), Universal has done a good thing by donating a portion of the Fast & Furious 6 Blu-ray/DVD/Digital proceeds to Walker’s charity, Reach Out WorldWide, “which connects a network of skilled first-responders to the victims of natural disasters.” The film will be available to own on December 10th.
Universal said in a statement, ” We keep Paul’s memory alive and honor his legacy through continued support of Reach Out WorldWide, the non-profit he founded to give hope to those who must rebuild after they have experienced natural disasters.”
If you want to donate without purchasing Fast & Furious 6, go here.