The unfortunate question of the fate of "Fast & Furious 7" raised by star Paul Walker's untimely death last weekend finally has an official answer: production on the movie is officially on hold, Universal announced Wednesday (December 4) in a press release.
"Right now, all of us at Universal are dedicated to providing support to Paul's immediate family and our extended 'Fast & Furious' family of cast, crew and filmmakers," the release stated. "At this time we feel it is our responsibility to shut down production on 'Fast & Furious 7' for a period of time so we can assess all options available to move forward with the franchise. We are committed to keeping 'Fast & Furious' fans informed, and we will provide further information to them when we have it. Until then, we know they join us in mourning the passing of our dear friend Paul Walker."
Production, which was on hiatus for Thanksgiving, was scheduled to have resumed on Monday. In light of Walker's death, however, Universal Pictures executives together with director James Wan have taken the past few days to mull how to move forward. About half of the movie has reportedly already been shot, and a shoot was planned in Abu Dhabi for January.
"Fast & Furious 7" was scheduled to be released July 11, 2014. The studio has not given any indication whether production will resume in time to meet the planned opening. The production demands of the franchise are typically high, however. Justin Lin, who directed four previous installments of the franchise, said that he declined to direct "Fast 7" because of the studio's accelerated timetable for production and release.
"Fast and Furious 6" clocks in as the #7 grossing film domestically this year, raking in $238.6 million since its May 24 opening.
Investigation of the crash that killed Walker and his friend Roger Rodas is still ongoing. The results of Walker's autopsy were released Wednesday; the Los Angeles County coroner listed his cause of death as "combined effects of traumatic and thermal injuries."