When Paul Walker was killed in November 2013 in the midst of shooting Fast and Furious 7, it was clear that the actor’s untimely death in an horrific car accident would trigger by far the largest insurance claim in Hollywood’s history.
Having had a major role in the majority of previous films in the series, the loss of Paul Walker meant that the film itself had to undergo major revisions – these included rewrites, a halt on production, a larger investment in special effects, and hiring three new actors to play the part of Walker’s character. When it came to figure out how they would account for the absence of Walker, the film’s producers and director agreed that they would keep Walker’s character in Fast and Furious 7, considering a substantial number of his scenes had already been filmed. To do so, they opted to have a computer-generated version of his face superimposed onto other actors.
In total, three people took turns in handling Walker’s role, two of which are actually Paul’s brothers and another one being an actor of similar height and physique. The employment of three individuals to cover the role of one person, as well as the associated cost for creating a believable CG version of Walker’s face all added to production costs.
In addition to this, the amount of time that was spent halting production while figuring out how to handle the film without Walker added around $1 million a week to the production costs. Between the new actors, the CG, delays and other associated costs, increased the film’s budget by 25% from its original $200 million to $250 million. Because this additional $50 million has been the result of an unforeseen tragedy, the studio is looking to claim it on insurance.
While the claim is yet to be officially paid, its more likely than not that it will be. If so, the $50 million claim will prove to be the biggest approved insurance claim in Hollywood history. While it may prove to be a lot of money in terms of Hollywood payouts, it could have been much bigger. If the studio had chosen to completely rewrite the film and remove Walker’s character from it entirely, then the additional production costs could have amounted to the same costs of the original budget.
In the past, the passing of Hollywood stars have required sudden changes to film production. The next instalment in The Hunger Games film series will also see some changes as a result of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s passing. While it was suggested that a computer-generated version of Hoffman’s character would be used to fill in any remaining scenes, the film’s director has stated otherwise. Instead, he noted that already-available footage of Hoffman will be used where necessary.