[Update, October 8: F. Gary Gray has confirmed he will direct “Fast and Furious 8,” confirming TheWrap’s exclusive report naming him the frontrunner for the job, which is below.]
Hot off the success of “Straight Outta Compton,” F. Gary Gray has emerged as the frontrunner to direct the next chapter in the “Fast and Furious” franchise for Universal Pictures, an individual familiar with the studio’s search has told TheWrap.
While a representative for Universal had no comment, insiders suggest that studio execs are sitting down with producers Vin Diesel and Neal Moritz to decide between Gray and one other director whose identity remains unknown (likely Louis Leterrier), though Gray looks to have the edge at this point.
On Monday night, Diesel posted a photo of himself with Gray on his own official Facebook page. Behind them were an array of images from the “Fast and Furious” franchise.
Gray would be a natural fit for the gravity-defying action franchise, as not only has he directed vehicular mayhem before in “The Italian Job,” but he previously worked with star Vin Diesel on “A Man Apart” and just made Universal a truckload of money with “Compton.”
The drama about rap group N.W.A. may not have grossed $1.5 billion worldwide like James Wan‘s “Furious 7,” but it did take in nearly $200 million worldwide.
Gray’s previous movies include the classic comedy “Friday,” the underrated thriller “The Negotiator,” crime drama “Law Abiding Citizen,” heist movies “Set It Off” and “The Italian Job” and the crime comedy “Be Cool,” which gave “Furious” star Dwayne Johnson the best role of his feature career up to that point.
Gray would also continue Universal’s streak of diverse hires on the “Fast” franchise following Wan and Justin Lin, and he’d be a strong fit among the multi-ethnic cast.
Gray, who is also a producer on Gus Van Sant‘s upcoming Matthew McConaughey drama “Sea of Trees,” is represented by UTA and Principato-Young Entertainment. Representatives for the actor did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Universal is slated to release the next “Fast and Furious” movie on April 14, 2017.