'Fast' star joined on U's lot by One Race execs Samantha Vincent, David Ortiz
After Universal Pictures locked the writer and director of “Fast Five” into first-look deals, it only made sense that one of its stars was next.That would be Vin Diesel, who’s signed a two-year production pact at Universal to house his One Race Films. Diesel, who’s appeared in all but one of the “Fast” pics that have grossed more than $1.5 billion worldwide, will be joined on the lot by his One Race execs Samantha Vincent and David Ortiz. “Since Vin first introduced audiences to Dom Toretto in 2001, he has managed the virtually impossible: to build a billion-dollar franchise in which the films keep getting stronger and more successful,” said U’s Adam Fogelson and Donna Langley in a joint statement. “Though we have considered him a member of the Universal family for more than a decade, we’re happy to make it official today.” “Fast Five” scribe Chris Morgan and director Justin Lin were given first-look deals after the automotive actioner kicked off this year’s blockbuster season, grossing $600 million worldwide and ending a significant slump for Universal with an $82.3 million domestic bow, the biggest in the studio’s history. Universal has now wrapped up key creatives from all sides of a single franchise. And though first-look talent deals are common, it’s unusual for a barrage of production contracts to spring from just one film. The deals show that Universal is not only committed to future “Fast” pics, but other unrelated projects that Diesel could drive as well. “Universal was there for me from the beginning for a film called Pitch Black that had no studio to release it. And they are here today 12 years later as we are going into production in three weeks for the chronicles – ‘Riddick,'” Diesel said in a statement. “The past few years it has been fun for both myself and Universal to see the saga concept of the recent ‘Fast’ movies pan out. In the future, this studio deal will help me in making the project I haven been talking about for 10 years, ‘The Trilogy of Hannibal and the Punic Wars.'” Besides the “Fast” franchise, thesp has been a key force in shaping U’s “Riddick” series, which he’s produced and starred in. The first, 2000’s “Pitch Black,” became a cult fave. Diesel’s character returned in 2004’s “Chronicles of Riddick.” That pic earned $116 million worldwide and spawned a hit vidgame series. Diesel and writer-helmer David Twohy have continued development on the third film, releasing concept art and keeping fans up to date via Facebook and Twitter. Diesel is repped by CAA and Brillistein Entertainment Partners.