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$1 Million Fine for 'Fast & Furious 9' Filmmakers After Stuntman's Tragic Accident

Vin Diesel Furious 7

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 1, 2015: Vin Diesel at the world premiere of his movie "Furious 7" at the TCL Chinese Theatre, Hollywood. April 1, 2015 Los Angeles, CA (Jaguar PS / Shutterstock.com)

The filmmakers behind "Fast & Furious 9" have been fined $1 million following a severe on-set accident that left stuntman Joe Watts with brain damage. The incident, which occurred during the film's production in July 2019 at Warner Bros’ studios in Hertfordshire, UK, has raised significant concerns about safety measures in film production.

Key Takeaways:

  • "Fast & Furious 9" filmmakers fined $1 million after stuntman Joe Watts suffered brain damage.
  • Watts fell eight meters onto concrete, resulting in a broken skull.
  • The accident occurred due to a safety line detachment during a changed stunt sequence.
  • The court criticized the last-minute changes to the stunt and inadequate safety measures.
  • Health and Safety Executive highlighted the incident as a case of "life-changing" injuries.
  • FF9 Pictures admitted to health and safety failings in court.
  • Watts had previously worked on high-profile productions like "Game of Thrones" and "Star Wars: The Last Jedi."
  • "Fast & Furious 9" had a production budget of $200M-$225M and grossed $726.5M globally.

The Incident and Its Aftermath

In a tragic turn of events, Joe Watts, an experienced stuntman, suffered a catastrophic fall while filming a stunt for "Fast & Furious 9." The accident, which resulted in Watts falling eight meters onto concrete, led to severe brain damage. The court heard that the safety line meant to protect him became detached, and the matting below was not adequately adjusted to the changed stunt.

Legal Proceedings and Fine

The filmmakers, FF9 Pictures, faced legal scrutiny following the accident. They were fined $1 million after admitting to health and safety failings in court. The prosecution, led by the Health and Safety Executive, emphasized the severity of Watts' injuries, describing them as "life-changing." The court's decision sends a strong message about the importance of adhering to safety protocols in high-risk film production environments.

Industry Impact

This incident has shone a spotlight on the risks stunt performers face and the critical need for stringent safety measures in the film industry. The fine imposed on the filmmakers of "Fast & Furious 9" underscores the consequences of negligence and the paramount importance of ensuring the safety of all crew members, especially during high-risk activities like stunt performances.

Watts' Career and the Film's Success

Prior to the accident, Joe Watts had an impressive career, working on several high-profile projects including "Game of Thrones," "Johnny English Strikes Again," "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," and "Kingsman: The Golden Circle." Despite the tragic incident, "Fast & Furious 9" went on to achieve significant commercial success, grossing over $726.5 million worldwide against a production budget of $200M-$225M.

Looking Forward

The film industry is now more aware than ever of the risks involved in stunt work and the critical importance of safety measures. This incident serves as a sobering reminder of the potential consequences of safety oversights and the need for continuous improvement in safety protocols to protect those who bring action-packed scenes to life.

In conclusion, the fine levied against the "Fast & Furious 9" filmmakers not only addresses the specific failings that led to Joe Watts' tragic accident but also serves as a crucial wake-up call for the entire film industry. It highlights the need for rigorous safety standards and the responsibility of filmmakers to ensure the well-being of their crew, especially in high-stakes environments like stunt performances.

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