Lin was handling writing duties on the movie and believed he had a locked script going into it. Universal and Diesel had other thoughts. A key location that had been secured was cut due to its Eastern Europe location, amid the war in Ukraine. And the movie still hadn’t cast one of its villains yet. On top of that, even as Lin tried to draw lines in the sand, the studio said it would be sending to London a writer to polish dialogue for some of the actors, a move that was expected but apparently not welcome by Lin at that time, sources say.
The constantly moving target proved too much for seasoned Lin, who on April 23 had a “major disagreement” with Diesel. The four-person meeting had begun with Diesel having new notes. It ended with a slammed door. “Justin finally had enough and said, ‘This movie is not worth my mental health,’” says one source. Both Lin and Diesel declined comment for this story.
In the heat of the moment, Lin said he was through with the movie. The studio took him seriously. And by April 25, a settlement was reached for Lin to exit the production. He would remain involved as a producer. A great many of the crew had worked on F9 with Lin and for a spell wondered what their next moves should be, but Lin, according to insiders, gave his blessing that they should stay on. Regardless, the muscle car had lost its driver as it was speeding down the highway.
Sources tell THR that Fast 10′ s budget was hitting upwards of the $300 million mark, and that is without any marketing and publicity spend. Over a hundred million of that is for above-the-line costs, which have ballooned over the years and see the studio juggling high seven- and eight-figure salaries for actors such as Charlize Theron, whose part has only grown, latest newcomers Jason Momoa and Brie Larson, and veterans Michelle Rodriguez, Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson. All those figures pale in comparison to the fees coming Diesel’s way.
The hoped-for hero was found in Louis Leterrier, a sturdy hand who had experience in big visual effects work, having done the remake of Clash of the Titans and the well-regarded but short-lived Netflix series, Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance , and action car chases thanks to the Jason Statham-starring Transporter movies. Leterrier had, according to one insider, always been in the contention for directing gigs for the Fast movies due to his experience and interest.