Since The Fast And The Furious was released back in 2001, Universal has built the property into one of the biggest film franchises ever made. Two of its instalments – Furious 7 and The Fate Of The Furious – have secured spots in the top 15 highest grossing movies, worldwide, of all-time. Globally, the series as a whole has generated over $5 billion in box office revenue. This is a flagship title for the studio, which makes it all the more curious to hear that the release date for the next instalment – tentatively titled Fast And Furious 9 – has been delayed by a full year.
Despite its success, the franchise has not been without its production problems. Most significantly, the Fast And Furious cast suffered the death of original, returning cast member Paul Walker during principal photography of Furious 7. Much time was spent considering how to move forward with the series after the loss of such a central figure.
Other cast members – specifically Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson – have generated headlines with reported on-set conflicts and, more recently, cast member Tyrese Gibson appeared to refer to discord between himself and Dwayne Johnson, with regard to a planned franchise spinoff that centres on the characters played by Johnson and Jason Statham. Separately, after the release of The Fate Of The Furious, Michelle Rodriguez suggested that the franchise would need to do more for its female characters if she was to be convinced to return for a ninth instalment.
It could well be that any one of these issues – or, indeed, a combination of them – has led to Fast And Furious 9 being delayed from its original release date of April 19th, 2019, to April 10th, 2020. Any concerns are surely not financial, since the franchise gives almost guaranteed box office returns at this point, and the new release date places the film in theatres during the popular Easter weekend – indicating confidence on the part of the studio.
It’s much more likely that Universal is working hard to get a script together that services each character properly, while also taking into consideration the logistical issues of reuniting a cast filled with busy, popular actors. In addition, it’s possible that the film has been shifted back to make room for the Johnson/Statham spinoff project – though this has yet to receive a confirmed release date of its own.
With a screenwriter and director yet to be announced, we’ll be watching closely for further news on Fast And Furious 9.