‘Fast and Furious 7′ Could Resume Filming as Early as January
After being postponed indefinitely by Universal following the death of Paul Walker, 'Fast and Furious 7' could be jumpstarted by a revised script by writer Chris Morgan and may resume filming as soon as next month.
The Hollywood Reporter says that Universal quickly put Morgan (who has written all four of the Justin Lin 'Fast and Furious' films) to work on rewriting the 'Fast and Furious 7' script in a way that would allow the film to "retire" Walker's character (which is a nice way of saying, they're trying to find a delicate way to kill Brian O'Conner off). It's a positive sign that things are moving forward quickly on the franchise, but this is the best case scenario.
Once Morgan completes the rewrite, Universal executives, director James Wan, star/producer Vin Diesel and many others will have input on the new direction of the film. If everyone is pleased, Universal is hoping for a new start date in mid-to-late January.
According to Universal, Walker shot "almost exactly half" of his part in 'Fast and Furious 7' and Morgan will have to find a way to use the existing scenes to craft a new ending for the character and a new direction for the film. One of the scenes Walker had not yet shot, was an action-packed opening sequence to the film that the crew was scheduled to film in Abu Dhabi this month.
If, upon reading Morgan's new draft, Universal decides that the film can't be salvaged properly with the existing footage already shot, they may choose to exercise an option that would have their insurance carrier cover the $150 million already spent on the film and start fresh, pushing 'Fast and Furious 7' to a 2015 release date instead.
Whatever they decide, Universal needs to move quickly because the Screen Actors Guild has provisions on how long you can keep the cast on hold (the studio is required to pay half their salary during the down time) and Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Wan and other high-profile cast members may have even stricter provisions in their contract.
Internally, Universal has conceded that 'Fast and Furious 7' will be vacate its July 11, 2014 release date, but they have not announced the move yet, likely until they decide on which of their other films they can swap into that spot. There is no obvious choice and without 'Fast and Furious 7,' Universal is left without a tentpole action film for next summer.