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Universal Eyes ‘Fast & Furious 9’ With 3-Movie Deal for ‘Tokyo Drift’ Star Lucas Black

The franchise returnee is shooting ‘7’ now, with options for eighth and ninth franchise installments

With the last two installments in the “Fast & Furious” franchise grossing more than $ 1.4 billion worldwide and “Fast & Furious 7” racing into theaters next summer, Universal Pictures is already looking down the road to “Fast & Furious 9.”

Lucas Black, the star of “Fast & Furious 3: Tokyo Drift,” has signed a deal to appear in the seventh film, with options to appear in the eighth and ninth installments, a spokesperson at Black’s agency ICM Partners told TheWrap.

Also read: ‘Fast and Furious 7’ Adding UFC Champion Ronda Rousey

Universal says it’s not yet developing “Fast & Furious 8,” let alone “Fast & Furious 9,” but confirms that Black’s deal for “Fast & Furious 7” includes options for two additional sequels — not that his character is guaranteed to survive the next movie, which opens summer 2014.

James Wan, who has guided “The Conjuring” and “Insidious Chapter 2” to $40 million openings this year, is directing “7” from a script by Chris Morgan. Neal H. Moritz is producing with Vin Diesel, who stars alongside Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Tyrese Gibson, Jason Statham, Djimon Hounsou and Kurt Russell.

Also read: Kurt Russell Eyed for Role in ‘Fast & Furious 7’

It’s not uncommon for studios to make talent deals ahead of time should they decide to make additional sequels, and while Universal is smart to cover its bumper, the studio may be getting ahead of itself here — after all, the “Fast & Furious” franchise flamed out once before.

Will audiences three-to-five years from now still pay to see more stories in which Dom Toretto (Diesel) races from the law? The gravity-defying action series has been trending upward at the box office, but Hollywood is a cyclical business.