The Fast & Furious franchise has grown into an international sensation. While the beloved movie series began in Los Angeles, they soon branched out, exploring locations in Miami, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and Abu Dhabi. The next installment, Fast & Furious 8, will be set in New York City, but today we have reports from both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter that reveal Universal is exploring the possibility of shooting part of the movie in Cuba.
If this happens, it will be the first major U.S. motion picture to shoot in Cuba since the 1960s. The move comes just over a year after President Barack Obama lifted the U.S. trade embargo, which eased travel restrictions to Cuba in an effort to re-establish ties with the country. Last year, Conan O'Brien filmed in Cuba for his TBS late night talk show Conan, becoming the first American talk show to appear in Cuba since the U.S. trade embargo began in 1962. Last year, an indie film entitled Papa shot on the island, and Showtime's House of Lies announced today that they plan to shoot part of their fifth season in the country. While nothing is set in stone yet, a Universal Pictures spokesperson had this to say about Fast & Furious 8 filming in Cuba.
"Universal Pictures is currently in the process of seeking approval from the United States and Cuban governments to explore shooting a portion of the next installment of the Fast & Furious series in Cuba."
Fast & Furious 8 is planning to start production this spring in New York and Atlanta, but the producers are hoping to film one of the sequel's major set pieces in Cuba. The production is also eyeing locations in Iceland and Russia for the sequel. There are still a number of obstacles to overcome to ensure the Cuba shoot happens, such as ensuring that the country could support a massive production. Still, the country does have an entertainment industry in place with sound stages and trained professionals. Papa director Bob Yari told The Hollywood Reporter that, while the infrastructure isn't quite there yet in Cuba, the Cuban crews are very passionate.
"It has a unique beauty to it. You're in a very unique setting which is really hard to duplicate anywhere else. People have tried in places like the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, but Cuba has such unique features like the Morro Castle and the Malecon. It's a beautiful location. There isn't the infrastructure and facilities and equipment down there, so a lot of it has to be brought in. The crews are wonderful, they're very dedicated and passionate about what they do, but they're not used to the pace of U.S. filmmaking."
One of the biggest obstacles, though, is the lack of Internet. Carriers like Verizon and Sprint have offered roaming services in the country, but a production of this magnitude would require a satellite-based wireless internet service. Universal has set an April 14, 2017 release date for Fast & Furious 8, which has F. Gary Gray set to direct. What do you think about this beloved franchise heading to Cuba?