By JAKE COYLE and JUSTIN PRITCHARD
Universal Pictures has shut down production on “Fast & Furious 7” indefinitely following the death of its star, Paul Walker.
The studio announced Wednesday that the film will shut down “for a period of time so we can assess all options available to move forward with the franchise.”
The seventh installment of the street car racing series had begun shooting in September. While much of “Fast & Furious 7” has been filmed, it’s far from complete.
When Walker died in a fiery car crash Saturday north of Los Angeles, the film was on break for the Thanksgiving holiday. Shooting had been planned to resume Monday in Atlanta, but production was put on hold following Walker’s death.
Universal had been trying to fast-track “Fast & Furious 7” for a July 11 release, a date that’s likely to be postponed. Universal hasn’t yet announced any release date change.
Walker was killed by both the impact and subsequent fire when the high-powered Porsche driven by his friend crashed, according to autopsy results released Wednesday.
At the wheel was Roger Rodas, Walker’s friend, financial adviser and co-owner of a professional racing team. The two died when Rodas’ 2005 Porsche Carrera GT smashed into a light pole and tree, then exploded in flames.
Sheriff’s investigators were still trying to determine what caused Rodas to careen out of control. They have said speed was a factor in the one-car crash about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.
Rodas was killed by the impact alone, the doctor who performed the autopsy for the Los Angeles County coroner’s office concluded. Results of toxicology testing for drugs or alcohol will take another six to eight weeks.
The limited-edition Porsche was previously owned by IndyCar driver Graham Rahal, who has said it was difficult to drive. It is not just fast–it can hit 100 mph in less than 7 seconds–but also unforgiving in its handling.
Walker starred in all but one installment of the “Fast & Furious” franchise, which has been particularly lucrative for Universal. “Fast & Furious 6,” released in May, was the highest grossing film in the series, earning more than $788 million worldwide.
Universal announced Tuesday that it will donate a portion of the proceeds from the upcoming DVD, Blu-ray and digital release of “Fast & Furious 6” to Walker’s charity Reach Out Worldwide.
Walker, 40, founded Reach Out Worldwide in 2010 to give first-response aid to victims of natural disasters. Walker was hosting a fundraiser for the nonprofit on Saturday afternoon before the crash.
Pritchard reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press Auto Racing Writer Jenna Fryer also contributed to this report.