Consider the comeback of F. Gary Gray complete. After disappearing for six years following 2009’s Law Abiding Citizen, the director returned with this summer with the box office smash Straight Outta Compton, and just like that, he’s a hot commodity again. Now, it appears Gray has nabbed one high-profile job with another waiting in the wings.
The Hollywood Reporter has word that Gray has raced ahead of other shortlisted names to be Universal’s choice for Furious 8. The next entry in the Fast and Furious franchise follows the most successful entry yet in Furious 7, and is a huge move for Gray. Of course, the Gray has experience helming high-octane actioners about cars, having previously directed the 2003 remake of The Italian Job.
Negotiations are ongoing, but odds are good that Gray signs on for the job. Furious star and notorious social media teaser Vin Diesel posted a picture of himself with Gray sitting in front of a board filled with Furious images. Update – Thursday, October 8th: Gray himself has confirmed his signing on to direct Furious 8.
Though not nearly as much of a sure thing as Furious, Variety is reporting that Marvel is also considering Gray for Black Panther. Having previously considered Ava DuVernay for the job, it would seem that Marvel Studios is determined to hire a black director to shepherd their tentpole minority hero.
Adding credence to the story is the fact that Marvel has courted Gray before. He was a frontrunner to make Captain America: Winter Soldier, but pulled his name from contention in order to make Straight Outta Compton. That movie launched him back to the spotlight and Winter Soldier turned Anthony and Joe Russo into Marvel’s new golden boys, so that move seems to have worked out for everyone.
Furious 8 is scheduled for an April 14th, 2017 release, while Black Panther has been pushed to July 6th, 2018 to accommodate Sony and Marvel’s new Spider-Man film.