Living its life one quarter-billion bucks at the box office at a time, Universal’s Fast & Furious franchise is now casting around for a new director to set up the ramps and fist bumps that will power its next installment. That search has apparently run into some trouble, though, with the franchise’s two most prominent directors, James Wan and Justin Lin, both ducking out to work on other films. (A sequel to The Conjuring for Wan, and the next Star Trek film for Lin.) According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lin and Wan’s reluctance to return to the highly lucrative franchise isn’t rooted solely in nitrous fatigue and a general aversion to grappling hooks and sleeveless shirts, but possible conflicts with series star and producer Vin Diesel.
In the wake of Paul Walker’s death, Diesel has become the sole public glower of the franchise, a responsibility he apparently takes as seriously as he does hunting witches or being a tree. According to the Reporter’s sources (all of whom, we should probably note, spoke off the record, and have been refuted by Universal), Diesel spent the last film nitpicking action scenes and summoning filmmakers for “repeated late-night script sessions to make him comfortable with his character and dialogue.“ (This, despite the fact that Diesel’s Furious character, Dom, is essentially a human fist that has somehow learned to smirk and drive a car.) As one might imagine, the pressures of having Diesel looming over him (not to mention the stresses of finishing a half-completed film after the high-profile death of its other star) reportedly contributed to Wan turning down the apparently “life-altering” amount of money he was offered to direct Furious 8.
Universal is currently looking around for new blood to fill in the gaps in the next three Furious film, attempting to lure newcomer action directors who aren’t afraid of explosions, testosterone, or the warm, engine oil-tinged sensation of Vin Diesel breathing down their neck. They’ll have to move fast, though; Furious 8 is expected to land in theaters in April of 2017.