Fresh off of the huge success of Straight Outta Compton, director F. Gary Gray has just become the frontrunner to helm Universal’s Fast and Furious 8. William Eubank, Louis Leterrier and Adam Wingard were among the directors the studio was considering, but now, Gray himself has reportedly told the studio he is ready to finalize the deal to direct the film. This has apparently been a long search for the studio, after trying to convince James Waan, the director of Furious 7, to stick around to helm the next sequels.
The franchise’s star, Vin Diesel, also seems to be a key member in this deal, with sources claiming he has sat down with the studio and narrowed down the choices on their list of directors to F. Gary Gray. As the actor has been known to do, he took to his Facebook account on Monday and posted a picture of himself sitting with Gray. Behind them was a collage of photos from the Fast and Furious series. The picture itself had no caption, but it received thousands of likes, shares and comments.
Gray has also been mentioned as a possible candidate to direct Marvel’s Black Panther film, which will star Chadwick Boseman as the title character. However, due to scheduling conflicts, it appears that Gray will have to direct one or the other and cannot direct both. Fast and Furious 8 is expected to open in theaters on April 14, 2017, while Black Panther is slated for a July 6, 2018 release date.
Hiring Gray to direct the seventh sequel in this series would continue the studio’s streak of hiring diverse talent, both behind and in front of the camera; the franchise’s previous two directors were of Asian descent. Interestingly enough, Gray also has some history with two members of the cast. The director worked with Diesel on 2003’s A Man Apart, and he also directed Dwayne Johnson in 2005’s Be Cool.
The only other action movie Gray has directed, which coincidentally is famous for a car chase involving Mini Coopers, is The Italian Job. Coupled with Straight Outta Compton bringing in over $195 million worldwide, F. Gary Gray seems to be quite a strong contender to direct the film.