Producers of the film Fast & Furious 7 are reportedly considering putting a halt to production on the film entirely and restarting from scratch, according to insiders speaking to The Wrap. A final decision hasn’t been made yet, but the film is insured and a valid claim can be made given the events of the past week, so cost would not be an issue.
Production was put on indefinite hold following the death of actor Paul Walker, who appeared in six of the seven Fast and Furious productions. More than half of the film is reportedly completed and Walker himself finished an unspecified amount of principal photography. He was scheduled to head to Abu Dhabi in January for further filming though.
The studio and producers have yet to make a decision, and one may not be coming for weeks yet, but completely scrapping the film and starting over is one option that’s been gaining strength. Walker’s character Brian O’Conner is integral to the series, so simply writing him out halfway may not be possible. Universal is also said to be keenly aware of the possible fan backlash if it tried to simply remove the character from the existing script.
The producers have discussed using special effects to put Walker’s face on another actor’s body, using a technique similar to what director Ridley Scott employed during the filming of Gladiator, following actor Oliver Reed’s death. In that instance though, Reed played a supporting character, and the filmmakers were able to quickly rewrite the script to reflect the character’s death.
It may be more difficult and ultimately costly to try to force Walker’s existing footage into the film rather than just start over. A new script may be commissioned, and production would begin from scratch if that were to happen. In that event, the character of O’Conner would still appear in the film, but in a lesser degree. It isn’t clear if that would mean working in the existing footage or using a double.
Universal continues to see a long term future for the franchise following a combined worldwide take of roughly $1.5 billion for the fifth and sixth movies. The studio is still holding out hope that Fast & Furious 7 can make its July 11, 2014 release date. That will be difficult using the existing footage, but starting over would almost certainly force a delay.