Behind Justin Lin’s “Fast 10” Breaking Point

Families come in all shapes and sizes. They can be loving and nurturing, they can be loud and brash, they can be surly and frustrating. the Fast and Furious family-themed franchise became the latter when, just days after filming the latest installment, Quick 10director Justin Lin did the unthinkable: he resigned.

The directors were replaced mid-production before, Bohemian Rhapsody and Solo: A Star Wars Story being recent examples. However, these were incidents in which filmmakers were fired. In the case of Quick 10, it is the director who has had enough. Enough of the ever-evolving script, enough of the process of creating a Fast film, and enough of the management of the film’s star and fellow producer, Vin Diesel, according to multiple sources. The Hollywood Reporter.

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Lin was handling writing duties on the film and thought he had a locked script. Universal and Diesel had other thoughts. A key location that had been secured was cut due to its location in Eastern Europe amid the war in Ukraine. And the film still hadn’t chosen one of its villains. On top of that, even as Lin tried to draw lines in the sand, the studio said it would send a writer to London to polish some of the actors’ dialogue, a move expected but apparently not welcomed by Lin at that time. , say the sources.

The constantly moving target proved too much for seasoned Lin, who on April 23 had a “major disagreement” with Diesel. The four-person reunion had started with Diesel having new notes. It ended with a slammed door. “Justin finally had enough and said, ‘This movie isn’t worth my sanity,'” a source said. Lin and Diesel declined to comment for this story.

A Universal spokesperson said THR: “Any creative differences leading up to Justin Lin’s exit were with the studio, not the other producers, cast or crew.”

In the heat of the moment, Lin said he was done with the film. The studio took it seriously. And on April 25, a settlement was reached for Lin to leave the production. He would remain involved as a producer. Much of the crew had worked on F9 with Lin and for a while they wondered what their next moves should be, but Lin, according to insiders, gave his blessing that they would stay. Either way, the muscle car had lost its driver as it raced down the highway.

On April 26, three days after the explosion, Lin announced his departure on the Fast social media channels. “With the support of Universal, I have made the difficult decision to step back as director of Quick X,” he wrote, also thanking his cast and crew for their support, and expressing his pride in helping to build “the most diverse franchise in movie history.”

Lin’s departure took months and offers a glimpse into the kind of high-pressure cooking environment that the film series, which is now nearly 21 years old, has become. It also illustrates how high the stakes are for his studio, Universal imagesits star and key producer, Diesel, and any director caught up in the Sturm und Drang of making a mega blockbuster.

Lin, more than any director, knew what he was getting into with Quick 10. He had made five Fast films, from the third installment, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift. It guided the series from a simple, low-budget car-focused action movie to a global box office juggernaut, especially with the 2011s. Fast Fivewho brought in Dwayne Johnson and set the new course: big names, bigger set pieces.

Lin was coming out of 2021 F9: the fast saga, which had the misfortune to come out during the pandemic. While a world gross of $726 million is no reason to lose your motor oil, it is the lowest result since Fast Five. The pressure was on for the 10th installment to be a barn burner and the director, with a little pause, put the key in the ignition and immediately got to work on the next one.

The pressure on Universal to maintain the Fast the franchise is huge. It’s the biggest franchise in studio history, grossing nearly $6 billion theatrically. But 20 years later, the films have become extraordinarily expensive.

Sources say THR that Quick 10′s budget was over $300 million, without any marketing and advertising spend. Over a hundred million of that sum is above-the-line costs, which have skyrocketed over the years and see the studio juggle high seven- and eight-figure salaries for actors such as Charlize Theron, whose role has only grown, with recent newcomers Jason Momoa and Brie Larson, and veterans Michelle Rodriguez, Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson. All of these numbers pale in comparison to Diesel’s upcoming fee. (Universal declined to comment.)

Diesel had become his own personality to be reckoned with at this point in the Fast franchise. He had long since become the dominant force and wasn’t afraid to flex his ample muscle. His clash with Dwayne Johnson led to the former superstar wrestler leaving the franchise, even pushing back public awareness. And the film writing process was unorthodox, to say the least. Insiders say the screenwriters would write action sequences and Diesel would say “yes” or “no” to them, leaving it up to the director to adapt them. Or not, if Diesel changed his mind. “The whole process is a mosaic that never stops moving,” says an insider who has seen the making of several Fast movies.

Fast has had its share of unfortunate and even tragic setbacks. In 2013, Paul Walker, who starred in the films with Diesel, died in a car accident while on a production hiatus. The film suspended production for months while the studio, producers and director James Wan overhauled the entire shoot as they found ways to both honor Walker and move forward without him.

While clearly not as serious, Lin’s exit was certainly a most unwelcome development. Quick 10 turned to second unit photography as the studio and Diesel raced to find a replacement director. The process was costing the studio over a million dollars a day to keep the crew and locations on standby.

And finding a director for the franchise wasn’t going to be easy. “You need someone who can play ball with the studio, Vin and the actors,” notes an agency partner. “Perhaps you can count on two-handed filmmakers capable of meeting this challenge. Most filmmakers will classify this under “Life is too short”.

Obvious candidates, those who had previously crossed out slices, were unavailable. But the production tried. F. Gary Gray (Quick 7) is shooting a Kevin Hart movie for Netflix. Wan is in post-production on Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. David Leitch has to shoot a Scapegoat feature film, with Ryan Gosling, this summer. Even if it was to get him out of this project, the studio risked losing Gosling to another project, or worse, angering the actor, who might not want to mess up his schedule.

On the plus side, as an agency source notes, this could be a great opportunity: “If you can land that 747 and avoid a crash, you’d be a hero.”

The hoped-for hero was found in Louis Leterrier, a solid hand and experienced in heavy visual effects work, having made the remake of Clash of the Titans and the well-regarded but short-lived Netflix series, Dark Crystal: Age of Resistanceand car chases thanks to Jason Statham with Carrier movies. Leterrier had, according to an insider, always been in the running to lead concerts for the Fast films because of his experience and interest. Now he was receiving his blow.

His deal is expected to close this week with the draft out of the pit and back on the road shortly thereafter.

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