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Walker, 40, died when the limited-edition Porsche in which he was a passenger crashed at around 3:30 p.m. on Saturday in Valencia, Calif. The driver, Walker’s friend Roger Rodas, also died. The L.A. County Sherrif’s Department investigation — which included photographs of the scene, skid mark measurements and debris location, gathering evidence, re-creating the scene and examining the car — will take several days. Autopsies have been delayed until the L.A. Coroner receives dental records of both victims, required to identify the badly burned bodies.
Fast 7 already was on a tight schedule to meet its July 11 release date, which now likely will also shift. On Dec. 2, after two days of meetings that included NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke in Los Angeles, sources tell THR, the studio notified cast and crew that production would be on hold indefinitely.
On Wednesday morning, Universal released a statement confirming THR’s report:
“Right now, all of us at Universal are dedicated to providing support to Paul’s immediate family and our extended Fast & Furious family of cast, crew and filmmakers. At this time we feel it is our responsibility to shut down production on Fast & Furious 7 for a period of time so we can assess all options available to move forward with the franchise. We are committed to keeping Fast & Furious fans informed, and we will provide further information to them when we have it. Until then, we know they join us in mourning the passing of our dear friend Paul Walker.”
Walker was reprising his role as Brian O’Conner; sources say he made $8.5 million for Fast 6 and between $9 million and $13 million for Fast 7; he also had backend participation. Sources say that Fast 7‘s production was organized to film the more conversational elements of the movie first and the action sequences later in order to ease director James Wan (who is taking over the franchise from Justin Lin) into the big-budget filmmaking process.
In January, Walker and the rest of the Fast 7 team were scheduled to travel to Abu Dhabi to film additional scenes, including a major action sequence that was set to open the film.
“All of us at Universal are heartbroken,” a studio spokesperson said in a statement Saturday night. “Paul was truly one of the most beloved and respected members of our studio family for 14 years, and this loss is devastating to us, to everyone involved with the Fast and Furious films, and to countless fans. We send our deepest and most sincere condolences to Paul’s family.”
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