Director James Wan In The Driver’s Seat For ‘Fast And The Furious 7′

Mark Deming
Movie Talk

Wednesday night, director James Wan posted a Tweet: "Vroom Vrooom …"

Which was his way of telling the world, "I got the job!"

On April 4, it was announced that Justin Lin would not be directing the seventh film in the "Fast and the Furious" franchise, after helming 2006's "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift," 2009's "Fast and Furious," 2011's "Fast Five," and the upcoming "Fast and Furious 6," due to arrive in theaters May 24. Since then, speculation has spread like wildfire over who would take over the series from Lin, and Wednesday Lin and Universal Pictures announced that James Wan was their pick to direct.

In some respects, Wan is a surprising choice, and not just because many sources were predicting either Baltazar Kormakur ("2 Guns"), Jeff Wadlow ("Kick-Ass 2") or Harold Zwart ("The Karate Kid") would get the assignment. Wan has mainly directed mid-budget thrillers such as "Saw," "Death Sentence" and "Insidious," and there's nothing on his resume to suggest immediate familiarity with the sort of high-octane popcorn entertainment Lin has delivered since taking over the "Fast and the Furious" series. But a statement released by Lin confirmed that he and producer Neal H. Moritz think he's the right man for the project.

"I’m extremely proud to be part of the 'Fast' franchise, it is an experience I will always treasure," Lin said. "It’s time for me to move on to other things, and I’m thrilled that Universal and Neal have selected James Wan to lead the franchise into its new chapter."

The biggest reason cited for Lin turning down "Fast and the Furious 7" was scheduling – Universal wants the next film in theaters for the summer of 2014, meaning pre-production would need to begin almost immediately, and Lin is still tinkering with post-production on Volume Six. (Lin had previously put the kibosh on a plan to shoot the sixth and seventh movies at the same time.) Given Wan's proven knack for delivering a stylish product on a short shooting schedule and modest budget, Universal and Moritz could be betting than he'll be able to turn around the next film promptly without sacrificing quality.

Screenwriter Chris Morgan, who joined the franchise the same time as Lin, will be writing the script for "Fast and Furious 7," and Paul Walker and Vin Diesel have signed on to star. It remains to be seen if Dwayne Johnson will still be on board, given his increasingly busy schedule.

As for Lin, he'll be executive producer on the upcoming "Highlander" reboot, and rumor has it he may be directing as well. And as far as Kormakur, Wadlow, and Zwart are concerned … better luck next time, fellows.