Paul Walker’s sudden death leaves Hollywood scrambling - Omaha.com
go logo
article photo
article photo
Paul Walker(THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)


Paul Walker’s sudden death leaves Hollywood scrambling
By Steven Zeitchik, Amy Kaufman and James Barragan / The Los Angeles Times


LOS ANGELES — The death of actor Paul Walker in an automobile accident Saturday has left fans and the film community reeling — and Hollywood facing a series of tricky business decisions.

As filmmakers and fellow performers remembered him as a deeply likable everyman with a taste for adventure, principals on the late actor’s signature “Fast & Furious” franchise were left to deal with Walker’s tragic passing on the screen.

Walker’s death in a single-car crash in Santa Clarita, Calif., came as he was preparing to resume production on “Fast & Furious 7,” with a return to the Atlanta set scheduled for Monday to shoot more scenes as rogue ex-cop Brian O’Conner.

Earlier in the fall, Walker had shot an unspecified number of scenes for the car-themed action picture, which this go-round centers on a vengeful rivalry between racing crews.

With Walker’s death, director James Wan, lead producer Neal Moritz and executives at Universal Pictures have a decision to make on the film, set for release July 11.

It is believed that there is not nearly enough material in the can to close O’Conner’s character arc in the picture, which would mean rewriting the script to allow for a new resolution — a complicated and timely process — or cutting Walker out of the film entirely. Walker’s planned scenes this week will almost certainly mean a schedule shuffle and could also lead to production being halted.

Universal would not comment beyond a brief condolence message sent to reporters by a spokeswoman late Saturday. Moritz did not reply to a request for comment on plans for “Fast 7” in the wake of Walker’s death.

While the sudden passing of a director can throw an entire project into jeopardy — Tony Scott’s suicide in summer 2012 effectively derailed a planned “Top Gun” reboot — actor deaths have often meant the film is released as a tribute of sorts, providing their work has been completed. James Gandolfini, Heath Ledger and James Dean all had well-received posthumous releases.

Walker’s role in “Fast 7,” though, is a tightrope walk for Universal, which understandably would want to promote the actor’s final film without appearing to be capitalizing on it.

Walker’s sudden death also raises questions about the long-term viability of the series. “Fast & Furious” movies have grossed $2.3 billion worldwide, with the most recent, 2013’s “Fast Six,” the highest-grossing ($789 million).

While the series, which already has an eighth film in development, has rotated characters in and out over its 12-year history, the nucleus has been the buddy dynamic of Walker’s O’Conner and Vin Diesel’s Dom Toretto, who have been in every movie but “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift,” the series’ least successful installment. Still, many in Hollywood expect it to continue, with the brand considered a larger draw than any single performer.

Walker, 40, died as a Santa Clarita charity event and car show was winding down, when he and friend Roger Rodas went for a ride in a red Porsche, a witness said.

The event was held in support of Walker’s first-aid organization, Reach Out Worldwide, with proceeds earmarked for families affected by the typhoon in the Philippines and a tornado in Indiana, Torp said.

Sheriff’s officials said speed may have been a factor in the crash, which occurred on a quiet street with a 45-mph limit. The car knocked over a tree and a concrete lamp post. The cause of the crash remains under investigation, sheriff’s Deputy Kim Manatt told the Los Angeles Times.

Walker has several other pictures already shot; Saturday’s news had those films’ distributors contemplating their options.

Walker’s survival drama “Hours” had been set by the boutique company Pantelion Films for a limited theatrical and VOD release on Friday.

In the film, Walker plays a man trying to keep his infant daughter alive in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

The movie represents perhaps Walker’s biggest role and certainly one of his most emotional. Shot in New Orleans in just 18 days, “Hours” was also the first movie Walker produced.

In September, Walker had also finished shooting “Brick Mansions,” a crime drama penned by Luc Besson. Relativity Media has weighed a release in the first quarter of 2014, with nothing finalized yet, a spokesman said.


Contact the Omaha World-Herald newsroom


Copyright ©2014 Omaha World-Herald®. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, displayed or redistributed for any purpose without permission from the Omaha World-Herald.

Latest Stories

Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez dies at 87
Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez dies at 87

A person close to the family has confirmed reports that that Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez has died. He was 87.


Nebraska's best bloody Mary is in a city that's not Omaha or Lincoln
Nebraska's best bloody Mary is in a city that's not Omaha or Lincoln

From the department of statewide food contests ...


Hanging out with the Omaha Rollergirls before a big match
Hanging out with the Omaha Rollergirls before a big match

When was the last time you took in some live, rough and rowdy female roller derby? Yeah, I figured it’s been awhile.


Midtown bar will open in new location Friday
Midtown bar will open in new location Friday

Midtown's Sullivan's Bar is set to open in its new location on Friday.


UNL students make dancing robot drones
UNL students make dancing robot drones

The idea is to converge disciplines without literally colliding on stage


For two full weeks, Omaha venues will overflow with indie rock shows
For two full weeks, Omaha venues will overflow with indie rock shows

Gather your tickets, call in late to work, and get yourself to the club. For the next couple of weeks, a surprising number of awesome indie rock shows hit Omaha venues. We're already wondering how we're gonna get enough sleep.


Dining notes: More Easter dining specials
Dining notes: More Easter dining specials

Two Midtown Crossing restaurants have Easter specials.


Nightlife notes: Storz beer is being served again
Nightlife notes: Storz beer is being served again

Storz Triumph Lager is back on the market after a brief hiatus.


The 15 best Record Store Day releases for 2014
The 15 best Record Store Day releases for 2014

On Saturday, more than 500 exclusive vinyl (and some CD and cassette) releases will hit the shelves at your favorite independent record stores for Record Store Day.


A baseball player was (falsely) convinced a teammate was deaf
A baseball player was (falsely) convinced a teammate was deaf

When it was it was finally revealed to Jeff Francoeur that Jorge Reyes wasn’t deaf, everyone had some good laughs.


 
Search
Movies Opening this week

Movie showtimes and theater listings






Read this!








VIDEOS

Tonight in Prime Time
© 2014 Omaha World-Herald. All rights reserved