Paul Walker’s death shocked everyone, from his family to his Furious 7 co-stars to his fans, but could the tragedy have helped the film succeed at the box office beyond anybody’s dreams?
The Fast & Furious franchise has always been a very successful one, but Furious 7 is crushing them all after its first weekend in theaters. Walker’s death could have meant the certain demise of the franchise because, after all, he is one of the original characters, however, now there is talk that a Furious 8 may be coming next.
The latest installment was supposed to be released in the summer of 2014, but Paul Walker’s shocking death in November of 2013 derailed any plans the studio had. As can be imagined, everyone associated with the film needed time to process the loss of the 40-year-old star, who was more like a brother and family friend than a colleague.
After countless meetings and unending hours working on the script and a way to get around the death of Paul Walker, Universal and the production team decided to go ahead and give him a proper send off and it is paying off. Fans seem to be happy — though tearful — with the way the final farewell to Walker’s character, Brian O’Conner was handled (we won’t give anything away).
It helped that Walker’s younger brothers, Cody and Caleb, stepped in to finish filming the scenes their brother couldn’t. They all share an uncanny resemblance, which worked out well for that part of the shooting.
“The original ending of Furious 7 was setting up, you know, the bigger world of where the Fast and Furious franchise could go into. And that’s obviously very smart of them to think so. But when the tragedy happened, all of that became irrelevant. So it did not matter anymore, all of that stuff. And to the studio’s credit, they did not push for that. They realized how important it was to make a movie that finishes and that just outright is a tribute to Paul Walker. So I give them a lot of credit for being bigger than that and going along with this ending that is the right ending to go with.”
Unquestionably, Paul Walker’s death is being felt by fans of the franchise as well as his co-stars, but we think he would be happy in the way the studio handled a very difficult situation, especially considering Walker was killed in a high speed car accident. All in all, Universal appeared to be concerned with keeping with the family theme the Fast & Furious films have always preached.
He may even be smiling from above as he learns of all the box office records Furious 7 is breaking during its first few days in theaters. The latest film in the franchise is currently at number nine on the top 10 openings in history with $147.1 million in revenue, according to Box Office Mojo, a best in franchise history.
[Image via Universal Studios]