While fast would be a stretch to describe its ongoing negotiations with Universal Pictures, furious may well capture the mood at Fireman's Fund, which may face a film industry record settlement to complete production on "Fast & Furious 7" following the death of franchise star Paul Walker.
Walker and his friend and business partner Richard Rodas were both killed last Nov. 30 when Rodas drove his 2005 Porsche Carerra GT into a tree in Los Angeles. Walker was 40.
Expert: Insurance payout could hit $50M
Last week, The Hollywood Reporter trade magazine reported the actor's untimely death has caused friction between the film's insurer and the studio over what one expert predicts could be a record $50 million entertainment insurance payout.
Although the bulk of Walker's scenes had already been shot before the film was to have wrapped in January, a four-month delay in production followed as writer Chris Morgan reworked scenes and director James Wan scavenged unused Walker footage from two previous "F&F" installments.
Entertainment insurance broker Brian Kingman of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. estimates the production delay could wind up costing Fireman's Fund a quarter of the film's original $200 million budget.
If he's correct, the claim would more than double the previous cast claim record of $20 million, paid when John Candy died during filming of the 1994 film, "Wagons East!"
Cost of film shutdown estimated at $250K
Fireman's Fund may not be on the hook for the entire amount; cast insurance typically requires the studio to pick up what it would have cost to complete the film uninterrupted. But the expenses to keep cast and crew employed through the shutdown could easily exceed $250,000 a day, according to Wendy Diaz, senior underwriting director of the entertainment division of Fireman's Fund.
With that kind of money at stake, negotiations between Universal and Fireman's Fund over what constitutes a fair split could easily have become heated.
"An informed source says the insurer and Universal are at odds over how much of the ongoing work was necessitated by Walker's death and how much cost the studio would have incurred regardless as it finished the movie," says The Hollywood Reporter.
Universal takes exception, saying there are no hard feelings and that Fireman's Fund has been "nothing but supportive."
Production on "Fast & Furious 7" resumed in April and is scheduled to wrap in July, with Walker's younger brothers Caleb and Cody filling in for him with help from computer-generated imagery. The film is scheduled for release on April 10, 2015.
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