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Universal Preps Shaw & Hobbs ‘Fast’ Spin-Off

We’ve been hearing rumors of Fast & Furious spin-offs for years now. Ever since Dwayne Johnson exploded onto the screen like a justice-seeking juggernaut in Fast Five, we’ve been told he’d be getting his own solo film. Then, in the wake of Furious Seven, it was made even clearer that Universal might close out the core franchise with 2021’s Fast 10, but will continue to expand it with spin-offs. Now we know what the first of those side features will be. Deadline is reporting that the studio is in the early stages of prepping a side adventure flick centered are former DSS Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and his newfound superspy ally, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham).

The two characters started off their relationship as deadly foes in 2015’s Fast Seven, only to become begrudging allies in this month’s The Fate of the Furious. Seemingly friends by the end of Fate, this is a pairing that makes sense. Not only does it work narratively, but Johnson and Statham have a rather electric chemistry with one another that will make for a dynamite pairing across a larger amount of screentime.

According to the outlet, Chris Morgan, the franchise’s screenwriting/producing shepherd since 2006’s The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, is already on board to pen the project and has met with both Johnson and Statham to hash out its concept. This is still early days, so the project is likely a couple of years away from hitting screens. Realistically, it likely won’t show up until at least the latter half of 2018 or early 2019, placing it after the release of 2019’s Fast 9. That as-yet-untitled entry is slated to shoot early next year, with Morgan currently working on its screenplay.

Johnson’s schedule is so packed that they likely couldn’t shoot it before Fast 9 even if they had a script and director. The action superstar is currently shooting the giant monster video game adaptation Rampage and will begin filming the action thriller Skyscraper immediately after it. As a result, Johnson is booked for the majority of 2017.  Assuming his TV series, “Ballers“, gets renewed for a third season, he will also have to film it before his time on Fast 9 begins. That leaves the actor with a window from late 2017 to early 2018, in which he could shoot any number of other projects, such as Shane Black’s Doc Savage or Disney’s recently-dated Jungle Cruise.

Statham’s schedule is much clearer. While the Brit action star has never had a real slump when it comes to work, he spent the greater part of the early 2010s alternating theatrical and low budget fare. 2015’s double-punch of Furious Seven and Spy has granted him a newfound resurgence, affording Statham the ability to be a bit pickier in his choice of projects. The actor recently finished production on the giant shark epic Meg for Warner Bros. and only has a few projects waiting in the wings, outside of an obvious return in Fast 9. One being a Hong Kong-based production involving Tony Jaa and another a re-teaming with his Expendables 3 director, Patrick Hughes. For the moment, both the TV event series “Viva La Madness!” and the oft-rumored Crank 3 appear to be lying in limbo. Toss in the fact that The Expendables 4 seems to be dying on the vine as stars exit left and right and you have a Statham that is open for almost anything.

Long story short? When this film gets made will entirely depend on when Dwayne Johnson can make time for it. Make time for it he should, however, as it’s a massively smart play for all involved. With its four latest installments, the Fast franchise has become for modern audiences what The Expendables franchise would have been had it happened in the early 90s. Diesel is our Stallone, Johnson is our Schwarzenegger, and Statham is our Van Damme/Seagal-style martial arts badass. A Hobbs/Shaw film will effectively be a buddy cop two-hander along the lines of films like 48 Hrs., Running Scared, and Lethal Weapon, but with the added benefit of both actors being top draw action stars. It’s so money-in-the-bank an idea that it’s crazy. It’s also the best way to keep this brand alive while still closing out the ensemble core series in 2021 for the franchise’s 20th anniversary. Bring it on!

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