After emerging as the frontrunner only a few days ago, Universal has confirmed that Straight Outta Compton‘s F. Gary Gray will indeed helm Furious 8, the next installment in the studio’s seemingly unstoppable box office juggernaut.
First teased and then made official via Gray’s Twitter account, the appointment brings an end to a saga that had the potential of spinning out of control, particularly with reports surfacing from the set that allegedly revealed internal turmoil among Universal, Vin Diesel and other major players. Drafting Gray in at the helm also means that Furious 8 is much more likely to nail that all-important April, 2017 release window, and we fully expect the studio to fast-track this one.
— F Gary Gray (@FGaryGray) October 8, 2015
Supplanting James Wan in the director’s chair, who bowed out to pursue his horror roots with The Conjuring: The Enfield Poltergeist, Gray has become one of the hottest directors in Tinsel Town following his astute, powerful and timely handling of Straight Outta Compton, depicting the rise – and ultimate fall – of West Coast hip hop artists, N.W.A.
But while the musical drama doubled down on a gritty sense of realism, Gray has boarded a franchise that revels in the ridiculousness, and it’ll be fascinating to see how, much like Wan, he deals with the tonal shift before getting to play around in Universal’s lucrative toolbox. Indeed, just prior to Universal’s confirmation earlier today, Gray was reportedly in the running to helm Black Panther for Disney, though the director has been given the keys to the former studio’s billion-dollar baby.
Furious 8 is slated for release on April 14, 2017.