“Fast and Furious” Franchise in Limbo Following Paul Walker’s Deadly Crash

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Actor Paul Walker died Saturday afternoon in a fatal car accident outside Los Angeles; leaving behind some questions about the racing film franchise he helped catapult to fame.

Can the show go on without Paul?

The seventh installment of the Fast and Furious franchise is due in theaters July 11, 2014. Production on the upcoming blockbuster, which began filming in September, is expected to be delayed, as Walker’s co-stars are — which includes Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jordana Brewster and Tyrese Gibson — are reportedly “too distraught” to return to the set upon learning of their friend’s death.

What about the future of the series?

Film analysts say the survival of Fast may depend on how Universal Pictures handles the tragedy.

Jeff Bock, vice president of Exhibitor Relations, tells USA Today:

“Characters have died in the franchise, and it deals well with the issue of death and tragedy. But this is real life, and fans are feeling a real loss. Filmmakers are going to have to walk that fine line of recognizing the tragedy without exploiting it.”

Walker, 40, was a passenger in pal Roger Rhodes’ red 2005 Porsche Carrera GT when the sports car crashed into a utility pole and burst into flames just outside Santa Clarita. The two men were leaving a fundraiser for their charity Reach Out World Wide.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that speed was a factor in the crash. Britain’s Daily Mail reports that burned rubber and doughnut marks were found near the crash site.

A fiery end to a once burning hot career.