It’s ironic that an actor who was well known for his role in a movie about speed-chasing cars would actually die in one. On Saturday, Nov. 29, 2013, Paul Walker, star of Universal’s Fast & Furious series, passed away in a tragic accident involving a car crash and explosion. The news quickly spread over social media networks Saturday night and was later confirmed by Walker’s representatives via Facebook. Walker was in the midst of filming the seventh installment of the Fast & Furious franchise: Fast & Furious 7. His death leaves the lingering, somewhat uncomfortable question for many: how does this affect the movie’s future?
Universal is definitely going to have to push back the release date for Fast & Furious 7, originally intended for July 11, 2014, seeing as filming and production have to come to a sudden halt after Walker’s unexpected death. Additionally, writers will have to come up with a clever way to either replace or remove Walker’s character in the film, Brian O’Connor. While what to do with Brian is a debate in and of itself, another is on the table: Can the franchise prosper if one of it’s main, beloved characters is killed off?
When Heath Ledger died before the release of The Dark Knight, speculation arose concerning how well the film would do. As sad as it may be, the death brought a lot more attention to the Batman flick. The same is likely to occur with Fast & Furious 7. Walker’s death will most likely bring enormous attention from unpredictable sources to the film. Reporters and tabloids who’d otherwise disregard this movie will now focus their attention upon it. In addition, fans are more than likely going to head to the theater sooner, rather than later, in an effort to see how Walker’s death was handled on screen in the Fast & Furious world.
No matter the outcome of the series and it’s seventh installment, Paul Walker was a man taken from this world too soon and who still had much to offer. He did more than just make great films; he was also dedicated to his charity “Reach Out Worldwide,” a network of professionals with first responder skills, including doctors, nurses, firefighters and more who meet to fulfill needs during times of disaster. His death is a terrible and sad loss to the industry and he will be remembered by many. The legacy he leaves behind will be far greater than he could have imagined as he touched and inspired millions.
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