It’s been anticipated for a while now that the upcoming Furious 7 would be the penultimate chapter in the Fast & Furious franchise, with veteran director Justin Lin returning for an eighth and final film in the blockbuster action franchise. According to the studio, however, rumors of the franchise’s conclusion have been a bit premature, as Universal Pictures expects to extend the series with at least three more films.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Universal Pictures Chairman Donna Langley says the late-blooming box office for the six-film franchise (which has grown with each of the last three installments) indicates that excitement about the franchise is growing, not diminishing.
“We think there’s at least three more,” said Langley. “I think it’s still a growing franchise. We’ll see what happens with Furious 7, obviously, but our box office has grown over the past three or four films and internationally, in particular. So we think that there’s more to mine there. But we’re of course very mindful about fatigue.”
Langley also addressed the unexpected death of franchise star Paul Walker, who died while on a break from filming Furious 7 in 2013. After much deliberation, the studio eventually used digital editing and doubles (including Walker’s brothers) to complete his role in the movie.
Asked whether the series can stand without Walker — who co-starred in the first installment of the series with Vin Diesel and has appeared in all but one subsequent film — Langley said the large cast of the film does indeed give it the necessary foundation to move forward without Walker.
“Paul is, and always will be, an integral part of the story. But there are many other great characters, and it’s also an opportunity to introduce new characters,” said Langley.
Furious 7 hits theaters April 3, 2015, and stars Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Elsa Pataky, and Lucas Black.