Does the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise have a future?

By the looks of the box office, there’s no red light in sight for the Fast and Furious series.

Furious 7‘s $143.6 million debut weekend was the biggest in the history of the popular action-movie franchise, which has grossed more than $1 billion domestically.

Fans aren’t shy about how much they love the car racing, the huge explosions, the scene-stealing fights and the over-the-top characters, though everybody seems to respect the newest Fast film: The seventh installment received a perfect A from audiences on CinemaScore and an 83% approval rating from critics on aggregate site RottenTomatoes.com.

“For a franchise 14 years on to still be generating this kind of excitement and enthusiasm is really quite amazing,” says Rentrak media analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “It’s not something that is easily done. To maintain that level for that long, it just doesn’t happen every day.”

But the death of star Paul Walker on Nov. 30, 2013 — halfway through filming — meant Furious 7 took an emotional toll on everyone involved, from cast to crew.

“It really was just the hardest thing I personally have ever had to do,” says Chris Morgan, a screenwriter for the franchise since 2006’s

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