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Space is the final frontier in the new F9: The Fast Saga trailer, which after years of speculation, confirms the franchise is going where it has never gone before. Filmmaker Justin Lin notes going to space is an idea he’s kicked around for years, but he wanted to find the right emotional arc to make it more than just a gimmick. After coming up with the idea for F9, he drove over to star Vin Diesel’s house to pitch it to him. Both men agreed the time was right, and that the right character arc was there.
Next, was trying to make it plausible.
“I’m on the phone with scientists, learning about fuel and physics,” Lin tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It was great, having the scientists on the other line going, ‘Wait, what? What are you trying to do?’ I love it.”
The trailer reveals part of this effort, with Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Ludacris) in what appear to be homemade spacesuits.
A year ago, F9 was one of the first tentpoles to delay its release as the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe. While Lin didn’t make any big changes to F9 between then and now, he appreciated the time to sit with it more than he normally would.
“I literally will be at the Hitchcock Stage [on the Universal lot] mixing the movie,” says Lin. “It will be 6 a.m., the sun is about to come up, I get in the car, I go to the airport, fly to London for the U.K. premiere. That’s how tight every film has been.
The delay also gave Lin time to contemplate the future.
While the original plan was for Lin to direct both F9 and a 10th and final installment, in October 2020 Universal announced that the journey would now end with a Lin-directed 11th installment. The filmmaker, who previously directed four Fast installments from 2006 to 2013, says he’s never thinking of sequels while making his films, preferring to put everything he has into the movie at hand. However, this time is a different matter, particularly as he and Diesel have spent a decade contemplating what the final chapter of the Fast franchise should be.
“I was thinking of it as one chapter. It became very clear to me that if we were going to do that, we were going to need some real estate,” says Lin of expanding to three films. “To the studio’s credit, it was like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ That’s what we’ve been doing since I’ve been back, … processing it as almost like a trilogy as a final chapter.”
F9, which premieres June 25, comes as theaters are seeing a rebound. Godzilla vs. Kong has become the top-grossing film of the pandemic. And though Godzilla vs. Kong is a tentpole, it is not a theatrical exclusive, meaning F9 will be the first movie of its size to debut exclusively in theaters in nearly a year. For Lin, debuting a trailer at a time in which theaters have been starved for big films makes it all the more poignant.
“It definitely has a lot more meaning to it,” says Lin. “Usually as a filmmaker when you have a trailer, you are like, ‘Oh man, let’s not give that away!’ … I can safely say there is still a lot in the film that hasn’t been shared. I’m really excited for that.”
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Sterling K. Brown