When Furious 7 turned into a massive hit we all probably thought that James Wan would be back to direct for Furious 8, but after the truly stressful shooting thanks to Paul Walker’s untimely death the director was allowed to walk away from the project despite being locked into it so he could direct The Conjuring 2. That seems to have been a benevolent mistake on Universal’s part.
The studio went back to Justin Lin, who directed the Tokyo Drift through 6, but he’d already been snatched up by Star Trek Beyond. Now desperate for a director and getting far closer to the April 2017 release date they went back to Wan with kill-your-mother type money, but the director still turned them down.
Why would he do that? THR is reporting that it wasn’t just the stressful shoot, but also that Vin Diesel was a pain in the ass to work with. He’s a producer on the film and reportedly would question many decisions made during the filming. He’d also call late night meetings about the screenplay and his character. Reps for Diesel, Universal and Wan all deny this going as far as to say,“Obviously if there was any issue, we wouldn’t be making the eighth [film] with [Diesel] right now.”
Anyway, Universal is now casting a wide net for the film’s director, first asking Non-Stop helmer Jaume Collett-Serra to jump on board. He’s unavailable (something he probably regrets) and so they’re now looking all over the place. Reportedly they’re talking to big name directors and relative newcomers to tackle the job. Wan wasn’t action-based when he took the job over so the sky is the limit.
I’m going to go way out on a limb here and suggest Kurt Wimmer. Who is that? He directed Equilibrium and Ultraviolet and while his film’s plots were never that good he has an eye for the kind of cartoonish action that now defines the Fast and Furious series. Obviously, that isn’t going to happen as he’s basically just a screenwriter now, but a guy can dream.