UPDATE 10/15/2015: On "The Tonight Show" last night, Diesel talked briefly about the origins of the "Fast & Furious" franchise of movies (an origin story that I actually wasn’t even aware of), and when asked where the next film in the series will be set, he yelled, "New York baby!" – where it really all officially began, despite the first film being set in LA. Watch the clip below to make sense of what I just said…
UPDATE 10/8/15: Alright, it’s over and done with. Hopefully there’ll be no more updates to this item after this. As you can see immediately following below, F. Gary Gray confirms that he is indeed going to direct "Furious 8." Two days ago, star Vin Diesel changed his Facebook page cover photo with the image you see above, and that of course led to even further speculation that Gray had being tapped for the job, after it was previously announced that he was on a short list of 3 directors in contention. And as I said in a Marvel post earlier today, I’d say that this likely takes him out of "Black Panther" consideration given that "Furious 8" is set for a spring 2017 release, meaning it’ll be shooting next year. And with "Black Panther" now scheduled to be released in February 2018, I’d imagine that whomever is tasked with directing that movie will likely have to commit 2 years of their life (starting in 2016 probably) to seeing the project from start to release, and beyond. So I can’t see Gray directing both films over the course of 2 years. This means the "Panther" job is now back to being wide open, since I had him pegged as a leading contender thanks greatly to the success of "Straight Outta Compton." This will also be Gray’s most expensive film to date, and potentially fattest paycheck.
UPDATE 10/6/2015: 24 hours after my previous update (see it immediately after this one)… word on the street now is that the list of 3 is now down to 1, with F. Gary Gray Vin Diesel’s likely choice to direct the next "Fast & Furious" movie. It was reported yesterday that Universal and star Vin Diesel had narrowed the list of contenders to 3, and all 3 were to meet with Diesel, after which a director for the next film would be chosen. Nine hours ago, Diesel replaced his Facebook cover photo with the one above (without a caption), which seems to suggest that he’s settled on Gray; especially since it was his cover photo that he changed, and not just a picture he shared on his feed. At least, that’s the word on the street. No official announcement has been made. But all the major industry trades (Deadline, Variety, etc) have all pretty much tapped Gray as the director as of this morning. And it would make sense. With a $200 million surprise box office smash in "Straight Outta Compton," which wa also a critical favorite, I’d expect that Gray would be a *hot* director right now, and at the top of every studio’s list, especially for any fast-paced, action-oriented dramas, which Gray has built his career on. Assuming an agreement is reached with Gray, this would likely be his biggest movie (in terms of budget and publicity) to date. The average budget of the last 3 "Furious" movies was $160 million! Expecting Universal to continue to pour money into the franchise, I’d expect the budget for "Furious 8" will be somewhere close to that figure. The highest budget Gray has ever worked with is $60 million ("The Italian Job" in 2003). Even if adjusted for inflation, that number won’t be anywhere near $160 million. Also worth noting, given that Diesel has said that there will be a 3 more "Furious" films (a closing trilogy, as he called them), there’s a chance that whoever is selected to direct the next one (which will be the first of the 3) could end up directing all 3; depending on what kind of agreement they reach.
UPDATE 10/5/2015: The search for a director for the next "Fast & Furious" movie has apparently come down to a list of 3, according to The Hollywood Reporter this evening: F. Gary Gray, Louis Leterrier, and Adam Wingard. The trio are to meet with star Vin Diesel. So, at some point in the near or distant future, one of these 3 gents could very well be announced as director of the 8th film in the successful franchise. Whoever it is just might have a trilogy on their hands, given what Diesel shared last week (see below). Gray is of course coming off the global box office smash "Straight Outta Compton." I actually expected that, thanks in part to that film’s success, making him maybe one of the hottest directors in Hollywood currently, he’d be Marvel’s top choice for "Black Panther." No announcement there yet.
Last week’s "Furious" post follows below.
In case you haven’t heard, Universal and Vin Diesel are having a little trouble settling on a director for the next film in the super-successful "Fast & Furious" franchise. There was even a rumor that Diesel himself was interested in directing the film, which is unlikely.
But what you may not yet know is that "Furious 8" (or whatever the next and 8th film will be titled) won’t actually be the last film in the franchise, as maybe you’d imagine; I certainly didn’t think it would last this long, let alone 8 films, although, given the increasing box office success of each film, leading up to "Furious 7" this year, I wasn’t shocked to hear that an 8th film would be made. But I certainly didn’t expect the franchise to go beyond that, especially after the death of one of its very key players in Paul Walker before "Furious 7" was released. It just feels like now is probably a very good time to wrap it all up, with one last movie!
Diesel clearly doesn’t agree, given the below update he posted to his Facebook page on Friday, which I missed completely, and only learned of its existence today:
As you can see, he’s seems to be implying here that there will be a final trilogy of "Fast & Furious" films, starting with the next one, #8, I’d imagine, with 2 more to follow after that – #9 & #10. I suppose a nice whole number like "10" is attractive. But let’s hope he keeps his word and the franchise doesn’t go beyond 10; although, quite frankly, I just don’t know what else they could do with the narrative, which has veered far away from its streetcar racing origins and become an international, James Bond/Jason Bourne-like action-thriller franchise. Will another cousin/brother/sister/father/mother of a past villain show up seeking revenge? Or (SPOILER ALERT) given how "Furious 7" ended, can we expect Statham to return in the next movie, since he wasn’t killed off? Maybe the Shaw brothers (since both of them are still alive, although older brother Owen is in critical condition in a hospital) find a way to get back together and team up to take on Dominic and the his posse?
I say stick a fork in it after #8, and move on. Another trilogy? I’ll pass. I wasn’t that impressed with "Furious 7" and may be in the minority on that.
Here’s Diesel’s latest Facebook post on the proposed ending trilogy: