Universal Formally Shuts Down Production on Fast 7 Over Paul Walker’s Death

Just a few days ago, the news was that Universal was still going forward with 7 Fast 7 Furious despite Paul Walker’s death in a fiery auto crash with his friend Roger Rodas. Today comes formal word from Universal that they’re shutting down production. What gives?

Here’s Universal’s statement, via Variety:

“Right now, all of us at Universal are dedicated to providing support to Paul’s immediate family and our extended ‘Fast & Furious’ family of cast, crew and filmmakers. At this time we feel it is our responsibility to shut down production on ‘Fast & Furious 7′ for a period of time so we can assess all options available to move forward with the franchise.”

The statement continued, “We are committed to keeping ‘Fast & Furious’ fans informed, and we will provide further information to them when we have it. Until then, we know they join us in mourning the passing of our dear friend Paul Walker.”

The key phrase there? “For a period of time.” Basically, they’re figuring out what to do with the story so that they can finish the film without Paul Walker. It’s their most profitable franchise and they’ve got so much money already sunk into it that it’s highly doubtful that they would ever pull the plug completely.

Meanwhile, autopsy results have confirmed the cause of Paul Walker’s death, which was, not surprisingly, a flaming car wreck. They also confirmed that Roger Rodas was indeed the one driving.

The report on the preliminary results indicates that Walker and Roger Rodas died of traumatic and “thermal” injuries in the fiery crash.

The cause of death for Walker was determined to be the combined effects of traumatic and burn injuries. The cause of death for Rodas, confirmed to be the driver, was determined to be multiple traumatic injuries.

The injuries resulted from the car striking a “fixed object,” according to the autopsy report.

Video from a business across the street from the crash site released Tuesday shows the light pole and tree as they were impacted by the high-performance Porsche. About a minute passes before whisps of smoke can be seen.

The crash remains under investigation, but the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has said investigators do not believe Rodas and Walker were racing another driver. Investigators have indicated that speed was a factor in the crash, which occurred in a 45-mph zone.

Walker, the 40-year-old star of the “Fast & Furious” film franchise, and the 38-year-old Rodas, a financial planner and race car driver who founded a charity with Walker, were killed Saturday in the crash and fire on a Santa Clarita street about 30 miles north of downtown Los Angeles. Walker and Rodas took what they said would be a brief drive away from a charity fundraiser and toy drive at Rodas’ custom car shop. [NBCLA]

Elsewhere, Universal has said that they’ll be donating a portion of the proceeds for Fast 6 DVD sales to Walker’s Reach Out charity, for whom he was doing a benefit just before he died. They haven’t specified exactly what percentage they’ll be donating, but a classy move nonetheless. Speaking of class, I’m just going to back out of this post very slowly without making any of my usual bad jokes.