Following the shocking death of Paul Walker last weekend it was widely assumed that a lengthy hiatus in the production of Fast & Furious 7 would be necessary, while all involved emotionally processed the tragedy and figured out how to proceed. Universal have now formalised that decision in an official statement, confirming that, for the time being, Fast & Furious 7 has been shut down.
"Right now, all of us at Universal are dedicated to providing support to Paul’s immediate family and our extended Fast & Furiousfamily of cast, crew and filmmakers," reads the missive. "At this time we feel it is our responsibility to shut down production on Fast & Furious 7for 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."
The shoot, it seems certain, will not be back underway until the new year, and it would seem impossible for the film now to make its previously-announced release date of July 2014. Roughly half of F&F7's location shooting had been completed in Atlanta, but clearly much was left to do, including a sizeable portion in the Middle East. Walker's scenes were incomplete, necessitating either drastic re-writing or possible re-casting. Some have even suggested that the film will be started over from scratch, although all such details remain rumour and speculation.
Beyond the seventh installment, it seems that Universal currently has no intention of abandoning the $2.4bn franchise, although those decisions too seem premature.
In the meantime, Universal has announced that a percentage of the profits from home-media sales of Fast & Furious 6 will be donated to Walker's charity Reach Out Worldwide. Walker founded the organisation in 2010 following the earthquake in Haiti. It comprises a network of first-response professionals who can be shipped in to augment local expertise to accelerate relief efforts following natural disasters.
"With the passing of Paul, the world has lost a man who spent a great deal of his life in service to others," explained Universal's chairman Donna Langley. "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.”