One of my favorite things about the Fast and the Furious franchise is how it seems to have supplanted the James Bond series as the premiere summer destination for globe-trotting adventures. High-tech gadgets, mysterious government agencies, and gratuitous explosions abound; just around the time that Daniel Craig’s films were becoming unbearably grim, Vin Diesel’s Fast and the Furious franchise leaned into its retro Bond vibe, undoubtedly aided by a cohesion at the production level. With Diesel serving as series architect, Chris Morgan writing each movie, and Justin Lin the steady hand behind the camera, the movies promised and delivered some high-caliber action.

The last few installments, though, have offered a little bit less of Sean Connery Bond and a little bit more of Pierce Brosnan Bond: too much spectacle, not enough filmmaking. And if you thought that F. Gary Gray was going to lock into another movie and maybe return some stability to the franchise, think again: it sounds like the director might not have room for another Fast and the Furious movie in his schedule right now. Here’s what Gray told ScreenRant (via Heroic Hollywood):

Right now I’m starting a company, so that is my focus for the last couple of months. I had a chance to take a week off, a vacation, and then jump into some prior stuff that I had to take care of. And in the midst of starting a company, so that’s what I’ve been dealing with.

As noted in both articles, Gray had recently seemed more skeptical about his return when talking to Entertainment Weekly, responding with a somewhat cryptic, “Who knows?” when asked if he’d be coming for the ninth film in the franchise. On the one hand, these films have always operated without the need for a marquee director - the action sequences and grunted dialogue about “family” have always been the driving force behind the franchise’s success - but it would be nice to see someone like Gray stick around to develop another movie. Of course, given the fact that Michelle Rodriguez has threatened to leave the franchise without a bigger focus on the female characters, Universal Pictures has also been presented with the perfect opportunity to snag a female director for the next movie. You want to be the most diverse blockbuster franchise in existence? There’s one more gaping hole for you to fill.

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