Fast and Furious 7 - Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson, Vin Diesel

Prior to the car crash that claimed the life of Paul Walker this past weekend, production on Fast and the Furious 7 was set to resume this week in Atlanta after a break for the Thanksgiving holiday. Now the production team faces not only the tremendous grief for their friend, but the fact that he was part of a huge undertaking that a giant corporation sees as a key element of its fiscal success for 2014.

There are conflicting details about the future of Fast 7 at this point, but the consensus at this point is at least this: the film must be significantly rewritten, and will likely be completed. Whether it will be finished in time for a July 11, 2014 release date — an ambitious plan even under prime circumstances — remains to be seen.

Sources such as THR and The Wrap have information about Universal’s plan to keep the film on track. THR says “director James Wan and Universal executives held a conference call Sunday morning to discuss the state of the film, whether rewrites would be necessary and how to proceed in a manner that would be respectful to Walker’s death.”

The Atlanta shoot that was set to pick up this week has been cancelled, and plans to shoot additional scenes in Abu Dhabi are now in doubt, too. The Wrap says “‘[Wan and Universal] also have not determined if the scheduled release date will need to change, or how many days production will be delayed.”

The film was at least half done, and one of the many questions facing the filmmakers will be how much of Walker’s completed scenes will be used. It is impossible to know what the actor would have wanted — no production ever begins with a contingency assuming that a star in his prime will pass before the film is complete — but some questions about how to use the footage he already shot will be answered by script changes. No matter what the filmmakers come up with, however, the film will still exist under a cloud of despair, as Walker’s death refutes one of the very basic premises of the series — will audiences be able to look at vehicular action in this film the same way as they had previously?

Walker’s film Hours will still be on VOD and in theaters on December 13 as planned.

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