Justin Lin, the director who has helmed five Fast & Furious films, announced that he would be stepping down as director of the franchise’s tenth iteration after filming had already begun. Lin co-wrote the film’s screenplay and said that he would remain on the team as a producer.

In his announcement, Lin did not state a reason for his departure but thanked the cast crew and fans of the films. “On a personal note, as the child of Asian immigrants, I am proud of helping to build one of the most diverse franchises in movie history,” he said. Sources close to the situation are giving the classic line of “creative differences” that led to Lin’s decision.

Relatively soon after his career took off Lin signed on to direct the standalone Fast & Furious movie: Tokyo Drift. The director told NPR he worked hard to retool early drafts of the film’s script which was “about cars drifting around Buddhist statues and geisha girls … just stuff that you see when Hollywood portrays other cultures.” He remained to direct the franchise until Fast & Furious 6 and then returned for F9.

After Lin departed the role as director, some fans shared an Instagram video of him interacting with franchise star Vin Diesel over the film’s week of production where he looked more than a little uncomfortable. When Diesel asks how filming feels, Lin said, “It feels like the beginning of, uh, an epic ending.” Given Diesel’s enthusiasm in the clip, it made Lin’s muted behavior and body language far more apparent, with some online joking that Diesel must be holding the director hostage.

To be fair, the tenth and eleventh Fast & Furious films are intended to be shot back-to-back, which must be a titanic ask especially for a director working on both projects. Possible names for Lin’s replacement have yet to be confirmed, and most directors who have worked on Fast & Furious films in the past such as James Wan and David Leitch are currently busy on other projects.

Some have joked that Diesel should step into the director’s seat because of how involved and opinionated he is about the franchise. He posted on April 20 that he had just read a draft of Fast X‘s script that didn’t include his character’s sister, and said, “I was so disappointed that I couldn’t see how I could continue.”

This display caused Mia, played by Jordana Brewster, to get written into the film’s script last minute. Diesel unfortunately probably lacks the directing experience to pull it off, having directed one feature Strays in 1997, and one short film Los Bandoleros set in the F&F world.

Without a director, the film has reportedly been languishing as a second unit team tries to work to capture extra footage, but most big stars and key crew members just have to wait on standby until Universal secures a replacement director. Variety spoke with sources that have experience in this process, and they said the studio could be spending as much as $1 million per day every day without a director.

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