The insurer for the latest Fast & Furious film is looking at a huge, and possibly historic, payout, according to an entertainment insurance agent.
The Hollywood Reporter trade magazine is reporting a source with knowledge of the situation says there is growing tension between Universal Pictures and insurer Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. over the size of a record-smashing claim the magazine estimates is in the ballpark of $50 million.
The cost of finishing Fast & Furious 7 was originally budgeted at an estimated $200 million, but the death of star Paul Walker on Nov. 30, 2013 has put the film back.
Walker died when friend and business partner Roger Rodas crashed his 2005 Porsche Carerra GT into a tree in Los Angles. Authorities cited unsafe speed as a cause of the crash, butRodas’ wife has filed a wrongful death and negligence suit against Porsche alleging design flaws were the cause of the crash.
Reports are the film will be completed with Walker’s brothers and computer-generated imagery.
That would require more camera work, more crew expenditures and probably additional writing, according to Brian Kingman, managing director of Gallagher Entertainment Services, a big player in the entertainment insurance market.
“My opinion is between $20 and $60 million,” Kingman said.
Kingman said he doesn’t have insider knowledge of the talks between Fireman’s Fund and Universal, but he has been following the matter.
He’s also linked to other not too dissimilar entertainment insurance claims, including the claim over Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death and the completion of “The Hunger Games” sequels, which reportedly won’t employ CGI.
Kingman wouldn’t comment on the Hoffman claim, but he estimates it will require at least three extra cameras per actor standing in for Walker – The Hollywood Reporter story states there are two of Paul Walker’s brothers as well as an actor to help fill in for him physically – and then a lot of work to put all of the images into the computer and put Walker’s face and likeness on those bodies.
“It’s really, really expensive to make it look believable, and correct,” Kingman said.
There’s also the carrying cost for delay, with several staff retained during the extended delay, plus any writing costs to work around Walker’s absence, he added.
Fireman’s Fund spokespersons didn’t respond to requests for comment for this story. Universal’s broker, Aon/Albert G. Ruben, wasn’t offering comment either, according to spokeswoman Cybil Rose.
(This story initially appeared in our sister publication Insurance Journal.)