NEW YORK » Universal Pictures has delayed the release of "Fast & Furious 7" for almost a year following the death of star Paul Walker.
The studio announced today that the "Fast & Furious" sequel will be released in April 2015, instead of July next year. Shooting on the film was about halfway finished when the 40-year-old Walker died in a car crash outside of Los Angeles.
Walker still will appear in the film, though Universal has not said exactly how it will handle his unfinished performance.
Co-star Vin Diesel first posted the news on Facebook, telling his fans that, "He’d want you to know first."
The franchise has been one of Universal’s most lucrative, grossing almost $2.4 billion worldwide since 2001. The last film, "Fast & Furious 6," made $789 million.
Production on "Fast & Furious 7" was on Thanksgiving break when Walker and his friend, Roger Rodas, died in a fiery crash in Valencia on Nov. 30. Rodas, 38, was driving his 2005 Porsche Carrera GT with Walker in the passenger seat.
Investigators with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department have found no evidence of mechanical problems and have ruled out debris or other roadway conditions causing the car the slam into a light pole and tree. The investigation is ongoing, but law enforcement officials have said speed is believed to be the cause.
Shooting on "Fast & Furious 7" had been planned to resume in Atlanta two days after the crash, but Universal suspended production indefinitely.