'Furious 8' Having Trouble Shifting Into Gear As Behind The Scenes Drama Stirs

One of the biggest active film franchises right now is the Fast & Furious series at Universal Pictures. After this year's Furious 7 pulled in over $1.5 billion at the worldwide box office this year, Furious 8 was guaranteed to happen with a release date set for April 14th, 2017.

However, there seems to be some trouble brewing behind the scenes as Universal is having trouble figuring out who to direct, and some of the trouble is reportedly that star and producer Vin Diesel has proven to be a little more difficult to work with on the franchise recently. Find out more about the Furious 8 director problems below.

Director Woes and More

James Wan RobotechTHR reports that Furious 8 is having some trouble starting the ignition as they try to find a director for the sequel. First of all, development on the film seems to be a little harder after the exit of co-president of production Jeffrey Kirschenbaum, who oversaw the franchise for Universal previously. He was a big help in getting Furious 7 reworked after the death of Walker, but now that he's stepped away, it sounds like a big part of the glue that held everything together is sorely missed. But the director issue seems to be the most pressing problem.

Originally, the studio wanted Furious 7 director James Wan to get back behind the camera right away for the sequel, and it didn't seem like an issue since he was contractually bound to direct the eighth and ninth films in the series. But before the end of production on Furious 7, Wan informed the studio that he was going to direct The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist (which just started shooting) as his next film.

The studio was fine with Wan's decision, and had hoped to bring back Justin Lin, director of the films in the series from The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift to Fast & Furious 6, for Furious 8 in his stead. But then Lin decided to direct Star Trek Beyond instead of heading back to Universal, which brought the studio to make Wan an offer of "life-altering money" to direct Furious 8 right away.

However, Wan still turned down the deal, and the report says that this was mostly because the director was exhausted after directing Furious 7. In addition to the extended two-year production brought about by the death of Paul Walker, forcing rewrites and reshoots, not to mention the stress that already comes with losing a valuable cast member and friend, supposedly Diesel turned out to be somewhat difficult to work with.

Vin Diesel a Problem?

Fast and Furious 7 - Vin Diesel and James Wan

The report discusses Diesel's involvement on Furious 7:

"As a producer, he is said to have questioned even small details on elaborate action sequences, often holding up the complex production. He also was known to summon filmmakers to repeated late-night script sessions to make him comfortable with his character and dialogue."

However, representatives for Diesel say that to suggest the actor/producer was a handful on set is "complete nonsense" and Wan's people also deny any abnormal friction between the actor and director beyond the expected stress of making the movie following the death of Paul Walker. Producer Neal Moritz even chimed in and said, "Obviously, if there was any issue, we wouldn't be making the eighth [film] with [Diesel] right now."

I'm not entirely sure that any problems with Diesel on the set of Furious 7 would have resulted in the canning of a Furious 8, especially after the kind of money the most recent sequel pulled in. Diesel is now the heart of that franchise, and his involvement is key to a lot of fans' interest, so the studio would likely deal with any problems they might encounter with Diesel again if they meant they get another successful, box office busting sequel.

But even so, it sounds like that there might be some drama stirring where the issues may not be as dire as this report suggests. Universal also counters part of the report saying:

"The studio and filmmakers loved working with James on Furious 7, but he was never in the mix for an eighth film due to a scheduling conflict with The Conjuring 2. We are actively casting and searching for the right director for the next chapter of the franchise."

Who Will Direct?

Fast and Furious 7

So the hunt is still on to figure out who will direct Furious 8, since neither James Wan or Justin Lin want the gig, opting for two other sequels instead of sticking with the bigger, likely more stressful, franchise at Universal. As of now the studio has put out feelers to agents to experienced action directors, but the only one being named so far is Jaume Collet-Serra, director of Liam Neeson's action thriller Non-Stop. That doesn't inspire much hope, to be honest.

However, the studio is also looking at potential newcomers, all with Diesel being consulted on the director choices. Though the actor doesn't have the power to veto whoever the studio choose, pleasing the veteran cast member of the franchise is probably pretty important for the studio.

There are also rumblings that Diesel may want to direct one of the Fast & Furious films at some point after directing an 18-minute short film called Los Bandoleros that was created as a way of explaining his return in the fourth film of the franchise. Apparently this is actually a concern for Universal, but another source in the report says that Diesel wouldn't want to take on such a big project as his first big screen directing venture.

Anyway, it sounds like Universal has a lot of work to do in order to get Furious 8 off the ground. As of now they're still planning on meeting their previously set release date, but if these supposed problems still persist, they might end up pushing back the film to later in the summer. Stay tuned for more.