It’s been a little under two weeks since Paul Walker‘s shocking death in a car accident, and in addition to mourning, many people have been wondering what will happen with the Fast & Furious franchise. That’s not to suggest that the importance of the movie in any way outweighs the tragedy of his death, but the fact that a large portion of the seventh film in the franchise had already been completed makes the situation especially problematic and delicate.
According to one source, Paul was pretty close to halfway through filming, which leaves the studio, Universal, debating whether to scrap the footage they’ve already gotten and start over or to try to complete the movie without its star. It sounds like they’re currently leaning toward completion, with writer Chris Morgan working on revisions to the script that would give Paul an appropriate send-off using scenes that were already shot. If he’s successful in his attempt to come up with a script that feels appropriately respectful and feasible to everyone, the cast and crew could be back to filming by as early as January 2014.
But whatever the producers decide to do, The Hollywood Reporter points out that experts are saying this tragedy could lead to the largest insurance claim in movie history.
‘According to a knowledgeable source, the studio already has poured about $150 million into the film, a bill that its insurance firm, Fireman’s Fund, might have to pay in full if Universal concludes the picture must be started anew.’
The studio has declared ‘force majeure’, which means production has been indefinitely shut down do to unforeseen, unpreventable extenuating circumstances, but that can’t last forever. It does save money not to be in active production, but everyone on set is a member of some union or another, and there are varying rules as to how long they can remain held in limbo.
The bottom line is that sometime very soon, someone’s going to need to make a decision about the future of Fast & Furious 7 in light of this tragedy, and depending on which way they go, it might cost someone $150 million.