Universal’s untitled “Fast and Furious” spinoff, centered on Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham’s characters, may have found its director.
“John Wick” and “Deadpool 2” director David Leitch is the top choice to helm the movie that has Johnson and Statham reprising their roles of special agent Luke Hobbs and criminal mastermind Deckard Shaw, sources tell Variety.
Since his arrival in the franchise’s fifth installment, Universal has tried to find a way to spin-off Johnson’s Hobbs character, given his popularity with fans. With the arrival of Statham’s character in the seventh movie of the series, and seeing the chemistry between the two in “The Fate of the Furious,” Universal took action on plans to develop a spinoff. It’s set to hit theaters on July 26, 2019.
Plot details are vague and have gone through various changes throughout the years (at one point, Charlize Theron’s “Fate of the Furious” villain was considered as a potential antagonist, though those plans have since been scrapped), but the main idea was that the often-at-odds duo would team up somehow.
“Fast and Furious” architect Chris Morgan was assigned to the script and turned in his final draft at the beginning of this year. Given Johnson’s busy schedule — he’s currently in production on Season 4 of “Ballers,” followed by Disney’s “Jungle Cruise” movie — the pic is scheduled to shoot in August, giving Leitch time to meet with all parties to discuss where they see the story going.
The other element in the mix is where the spinoff leaves Hobbs and Shaw in the ninth installment of the main “Fast and Furious” series. Justin Lin is back on as director, but as of right now, the film does not have a start date, although Universal is still very much trying to get that film up and running.
As for Leitch, the stunt coordinator-turned-director has been a rising star on the action scene after he and his stunt partner, Chad Stahelski, broke out with the cult hit “John Wick.” Stahelski took the reins for “John Wick 2” as Leitch moved on to the Theron action movie “Atomic Blonde,” the film that helped land him the job of “Deadpool 2” after that sequel lost its director. With “Deadpool 2” in post-production, Leitch was looking for his next challenge and after meeting with execs and Johnson, he was seen as the top choice to launch this potential new franchise.
“Deadpool 2” bows this Memorial Day. Leitch is repped by WME. Johnson is repped by WME and the Garcia Companies and Statham is repped by CAA. Morgan is repped by ICM Partners and attorney Jeff Frankel.