Fast & Furious 7 release dateUPDATE: Universal has formally announced the new 2015 release date for Fast & Furious 7, after Vin Diesel revealed it on his Facebook page. The studio has also given a sense that the late Paul Walker’s character will remain part of the movie, an outcome that was among the wildly speculative reporting that followed his tragic death in a car crash. “Continuing the global exploits in the franchise built on speed, Vin Diesel and Paul Walker lead the returning cast of Fast & Furious 7…” is how the studio put it. Universal, director James Wan, franchise scribe Chris Morgan and producer Neal R. Moritz postponed the film–the tragedy occurred Thanksgiving weekend, and work was supposed to begin that following Monday–and took an appropriate amount of time to give their cast a chance to grieve their very popular cast mate, and creatively come up with a way of continuing a storyline that was halfway done and has to be completed by writing around a main character that hadn’t finished his narrative arc. Expect to see shooting resume early next year. Some of this is sensitivity to business: Fast & Furious is by far Universal’s most lucrative billion dollar film franchise, and the studio is smart to allow some distance from one of the most tragic occurrences in the film business in 2013, which still would have been fresh in peoples’ mind had the film kept its original summer 2014 release. There will still be some inevitable awkwardness given the film’s subject matter and the circumstances behind Walker’s death, but the franchise has evolved from its original conception as a two-hander into a broad ensemble.

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EARLIER: After postponing the July 2014 release of Fast & Furious 7 following the tragic death of cast member Paul Walker, Universal has pushed the sequel’s debut by nearly a year to April 10, 2015. Vin Diesel first announced the release update on his official Facebook account Sunday evening along with a new photo of himself and Walker in character (left). “The last scene we filmed together,” he wrote. “There was a unique sense of completion, of pride we shared… in the film we were now completing… the magic captured… and, in just how far we’ve come… Fast and Furious 7 will be released… April 10th 2015! P.s. He’d want you to know first…”

Related: Universal Formalizes ‘Fast & Furious 7′ Postponement

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