"Furious 7," the newest addition to the "Fast and Furious" action franchise, had its world premiere at a surprise screening at South by Southwest Film Festival Sunday night (March 15), but don't expect to see any major spoilers from that very first, very enthusiastic audience.
Neal Moritz, who has produced all seven films in the franchise, appeared in front of the crowd to introduce the last-minute (literally, as he explained, the screening had been added Sunday morning after "I woke up yesterday and I was reading all these great articles about SXSW and I was like, 'what the f--k? Why is 'Furious 7' not there?'") and to plead for audience members not to share the ending for one particular character: the one played by the late Paul Walker.
Walker died in a car accident in November 2013, midway through filming "Furious 7." Most of his scenes were already filmed, but director James Wan made it clear that the film would be reworked somewhat to give a resolution for Walker's character.
Moritz pled with the audience to keep that ending quiet until the film's April 3 release date.
"On a serious side: We obviously lost a dear friend, brother, comrade when we were making this movie," Moritz said of Walker. "He was really the best guy I ever met in my world -- in my life. When we decided we were going to continue this movie, we were determined to honor his legacy and our love for him forever. I just want to ask one big favor of everybody. You guys are going to get to see the movie tonight without knowing what happens to Paul's storyline. Whatever you want to say after the movie is cool, but please let future audiences see it the way you're going to see it tonight."
Star Tyrese Gibson, also in attendance at the screening, echoed the sentiment: "The reason that we kept this thing going became on behalf of our brother Paul Walker."
We won't reveal the ending of the movie, of course, but we will say that it's a fitting send-off for Walker, and that the film is dedicated to his memory.
"This movie is the highlight of my career," an emotional Moritz told the crowd before the screening began. "I'm so proud of what we've done. And I know Paul Walker would be smiling down on all of us."
"Furious 7" hits theaters April 3.