Choking back tears, Diesel told the crowd of theater owners, “It means a lot to me to get your blessing.” He took the audience back to two years ago when, on the same stage at Caesars Palace, Diesel and Paul Walker, the actor who died in a 2013 car crash, said they planned to move forward on a seventh film in the action franchise.
“We were giddy and excited,” said Diesel. “You all gave me so much confidence. There was so much love.”
At various points after Walker’s shocking death, it seemed that Universal might have to cancel the production. Shooting was not yet complete when the crash happened, but special effects technicians and stunt doubles enabled the completion of the project, resulting in what domestic distribution chief Nick Carpou termed “a cathartic experience for fans of Walker.”
Just before Diesel made his announcement, footage screened of the final moment of “Furious 7, “a scene in which the two characters go on one final car race before going their separate ways.
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“You’ve been so loyal all along,” Diesel told exhibitors. “You helped us create history here.”
“Furious 7” has hit $1.15 billion at the worldwide box office, making it No.7 on the list of highest-grossing films of all time. It’s likely to end up with more than $1.4 billion overall.