Universal's "Furious 7" is expected to set box office records when it opens on April 3, with fans eager to flock to multiplexes to bid farewell to Paul Walker. But the film's star and producer, Vin Diesel, predicts that "Furious 7's" won't be limited to commercial successes but will also sweep a certain 2016 Oscars.
"Universal is going to have the biggest movie in history with this movie," Diesel said in a lengthy interview with Variety for this week's cover story.
"It will probably win best picture at the Oscars, unless the Oscars
don't want to be relevant ever."
The movie pays tribute to Walker, who died in an accident while driving a Porsche in California in November 2013 in the middle of production. The studio then completed shooting Walker's brothers Caleb and Cody doubling for the actor and CGI application.
Earlier this week, Diesel and his wife, model Paloma Jimenez, named their third child after the late Fast and Furious co-star.
"Furious 7," belongs to the most successful franchise in the history of Universal Pictures ($2.4 billion), debuted at SXSW last week, where it earned glowing reviews. The film currently stands at 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. But the Academy has yet to bestow a single best picture nomination on franchise events like "The Hunger Games," "The Dark Knight" or the previous six "Fast and Furious" films.
Then again, "Furious 7? opens at a time where the Academy is under scrutiny after this year's disastrous telecast, which saw viewership decline by 16 percent with host Neil Patrick Harris.
Board members are expected to meet in the coming days to talk about whether to narrow the best picture field back to only five nominees, instead of the current structure (which allows for up to 10).
Maybe Diesel is on to something, after all. Or maybe not: when told about the prediction, a Universal executive chuckled and then asked to go off the record.
?Variety and The Guardian