Vin Diesel Just Made An Important Promise About Fast And Furious 9

Vin Diesel wants Fast and Furious fans to know that the next chapter of Universal's record-setting racing franchise still plans to cross the box office finish line in May. 

Over the last several weeks, the rapid, global spread of coronavirus has resulted in several movie studios announcing the suspension of production for films like Mission: Impossible VII and the delay of major upcoming releases here and in China, including Mulan and No Time To Die, over concerns about potential domestic and international box office performance. But in a recent interview with USA Today promoting his upcoming film Bloodshot, the actor effectively told fans to pump the brakes over worries that F9's May 22 release date will be pushed back. 

Asked about the possibility that F9 might be postponed, Diesel invoked his character in the Valiant comics adaptation. "Let me put it to you this way: Bloodshot at the end of the day is a soldier and a soldier doesn't decide or pick when or where he's deployed. We're going to go in," Diesel said. 

The F9 star described the current theater-going market as "a very interesting time," where both movies and the cinematic experience are being threatened. Not shifting the release date, Diesel said, is about more than box office revenue. It's also about supporting the magic of the cinematic experience "in every single way" and is being done in the name of fans because "we need movies now more than ever."

"Maybe the higher thinking is not to just focus on the box office, but know that we're all one world and we all have to get through this together," Diesel told USA Today. "So yes, put it on record we're going to show up. I love to show up for the audience and for the fans because God knows how much they've showed up for me." 

Keeping F9's May release date could have a major impact on the film's earnings

During the interview, Diesel acknowledged that some might see the decision not to shift the release as silly or even dangerous, saying that he "won't fault anyone in the world for saying, 'You guys are stupid for releasing this movie right now.'" 

"I'm crazy," the actor said. "I'm begging Sony to let me go to China, even now. And you should see everyone's faces like, 'You're going alone, buddy!'"

While several films have delayed their premieres in the U.S., most were March or April debuts. Organizers behind May's Cannes Film Festival issued a statement, reported by Variety, calling questions about plans to cancel the high profile annual film event two and half months out "premature." So while a delay for F9 isn't happening now, it may simply be too early to call, and a delayed release could still be in the cards for Dom Toretto's crew.

That may be good for Universal, who certainly prioritize their box office over the "cinematic experience," but who also rely heavily on the Fast franchise's international revenue. The Fate of the Furious alone set a new record for the all-time biggest international weekend, beating the previous record-holder Jurassic World when it was released in 2017. In China, Fast 8 grossed $192 million in its opening weekend, making the movie the then-biggest 3-day opening weekend of all time, and the biggest Hollywood opening of all time in the region. 

China is in the midst of a significant box office downturn after shutting down virtually all of its movie theaters beginning the weekend of the Chinese New Year. That decision, made during a major moviegoing time in world's second-largest box office territory, has resulted in a revenue drop of nearly $2 billion, according to Business Insider. While it's unclear what the status of COVID-19 will be in May, failing to delay the release of F9 could result in the highly-anticipated ninth chapter spinning out when it hits theaters on May 22, 2020.