Following the initial shock, the death of actor Paul Walker prompted some immediate, uncomfortable questions about what it might mean for the future of the Fast & Furious series—most immediately Fast & Furious 7, which was still in the midst of filming. And while neither Universal nor director James Wan has officially offered comment beyond their condolences, The Hollywood Reporter says they have already held discussions about moving forward, rather than just abandoning the latest entry in their most lucrative franchise.
According to that report, the sequel had been on hiatus for the holiday at the time of Walker’s death, and “a large part” of filming had been completed. Nevertheless, Walker had still been expected to resume shooting in Atlanta tomorrow, as well as head to Abu Dhabi in January for some additional scenes. So now talks have turned to “whether rewrites would be necessary and how to proceed in a manner that would be respectful to Walker's death” besides not even talking about this for a while—something the film’s quickly approaching, apparently immovable release date makes impossible.
Of course, once the logistics of how to rewrite Walker’s role in the film are sorted, there’s still the problem of how to sell it. That the Fast & Furious movies are all about the allure of dangerous, high-speed driving cast an obvious pall over Walker’s death from doing the same. So naturally, there’s concern that audiences could be unsettled by promos, to say nothing of finished movie scenes, featuring Walker recklessly piloting the same kind of flashy sports car he died in. (THR compares Universal’s conundrum to the death of Heath Ledger—though obviously it differs from The Dark Knight and The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus, in that Ledger wasn’t killed by clowns or carnivals.) Most likely, time and Walker’s oft-stated enthusiasm for the movies will probably be a considerable factor in healing that. But for now, all that seems certain is that Fast & Furious will go on; it’s just a question of how it can also be Somber & Serious.