It’s hard to top a movie that makes a billion dollars. It’s even harder to top an emotional goodbye to a beloved, fan favorite character. Yet, whoever takes over as the new director for Fast & Furious 8 will have to do both.
For some time, insiders have reported that James Wan, the director of Furious 7 would not return for the sequel. At the same time, Justin Lin (who directed Tokyo Drift through Fast & Furious 6) was also focused on new endeavors. For the first time since Fast & Furious (#4) the franchise does not have a clear direction to take the story, giving whomever helms Fast 8 a relatively broad canvas for these characters.
Finally, we know who that director will be.
On October 8th, F. Gary Gray officially announced via Twitter that he will be directing Fast 8. Just the week before, The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Universal had three directors on its shortlist. Clearly, Gray made enough of an impression to overtake the other two almost instantly.
Gray had a lot of momentum going into this process, especially after steering the zeitgeist/cultural phenomenon Straight Outta Compton became one of the ten highest grossing biopics of all time (and first among music based biopics). Even before that, he had experience working with Vin Diesel on the 2003 film A Man Apart and with Dwayne Johnson on Be Cool (2005).
Making Straight Outta Compton for Universal probably helped with the process, but also having the previous experience of making the ensemble car caper flick The Italian Job certainly helped as well. His cult classic Friday (1995) also shows he can handle witty banter between Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris and the rest of the cast.
Considering that Marvel is also interested in F. Gary Gray to direct their Black Panther movie, he is clearly a hot commodity to watch moving forward.
It’s exciting to hear talk of a director for the bright future of the franchise. With word that filming could begin as early as next year, a ride coming to Universal Orlando, and rumors swirling for months that Idris Elba may join the franchise, Fast and Furious fans like myself are extremely excited to see what the franchise’s next steps will be. It might be hard to top Furious 7, but bringing back these characters and choosing from strong directors is definitely a great start.
Fast 8 will zoom into theaters on April 14th, 2017. While Vin Diesel, Kurt Russell, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson are the only confirmed actors to return, it’s likely we’ll see Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, Lucas Black, and Jason Statham likely to return.