After Vin Diesel and producer Neil H. Moritz, there’s probably no single person who deserves more credit for the massive success of the Fast & Furious franchise than director Justin Lin. He took over the franchise when it was at its lowest point, for The Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift, when almost all of the original actors and creators had fled and the series was close to becoming a direct-to-video property. Lin turned that movie into a surprise hit, and when the original Fast cast returned, Lin continued on as director — through Fast & FuriousFast Five, and Fast & Furious 6. He helped transform the series from a quirky series of action thrillers about street racers into an epic action franchise about master spies. His high-energy directing style became the series’ trademark.

Lin left the franchise to pursue other opportunities and Furious 7 and The Fate of the Furious were directed by James Wan and F. Gary Gray, respectively. But Lin returned for F9: The Fast Saga and was supposed to stay on for the upcoming two-part finale, which is officially titled Fast X. Diesel announced the film was officially in production under that name just one week ago, but the movie is already undergoing some major upheavals, with Lin announcing on the official Fast & Furious Twitter account that he has decided to drop out of directing the movie. (He says he will still remain as a producer of the film.)

“Over 10 years and five films,” Lin wrote, “we have been able to shoot the best actors, the best stunts, and the best damn car chases. On a personal note, as the child of Asian immigrants, I am proud of helping to build the most diverse franchise in movie history. I will forever be grateful to the amazing cast, crew, and studio for their support.”

Lin offered no reason for dropping out of the movie beyond calling it a “difficult decision,” but Deadline quotes “insiders” who claim “Lin ultimately decided to step away from the franchise due to creative differences.” The film will now take a “brief pause” in production to find a replacement. Presumably they will have to make a decision ... fast. (Sorry.)

Fast X is scheduled to open in theaters on May 19, 2023. We’ll se if that gets affected by this sudden change of directors.

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