Fast & Furious 9 | Late stunt change had life-changing consequences

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FF9 Pictures is hit with an £800,000 fine over ‘life-changing’ injuries to stunt performer Joe Watts on the set of Fast & Furious 9. More here.

The safety of stunt performers has been thrown back into the limelight following a ruling in a UK court over the film Fast & Furious 9.

A sequence for the film that was shot at Warner Bros Studios Leavesden in the UK left stunt performer Joe Watts with brain damage. Watts was involved in a stunt where reportedly his safety line became detached as he was being thrown over someone’s shoulder. This took place back in July of 2019.

Watts then fell eight metres onto concrete, head first, breaking his skull as a result of the accident. It had been a rehearsed stunt, albeit one that changed slightly – and with horrible consequences – when it came to the shoot itself. Watts fall was such that he missed the crash mats, and according to Judge Talwinder Buttar of Luton Magistrate’s Court, he was “fortunate to be alive” as a result of the accident.

The injuries that he sustained as a result of the stunt were described as “life-changing”,

The makers of the film were thus fined £800,000 and sharply criticised by the court for the late change to the stunt in question. The fine was issued to FF9 Pictures, which was established as a subsidiary of Universal Pictures for the production.

The report on the accident can be found here.

Prior to his career being curtailed, Watts had worked on films and productions as varied as Wonder Woman 1984, Spider-Man: Far From Home, Solo: A Star Wars Story and Phantom Thread. Yet as Watts’ legal filings had claimed, “he will not be able to return to his pre-accident employment as a stunt man. If he is able to work, he will suffer a permanent handicap on the labour market”.

He’d previously told Variety that “It’s been almost four years since the accident, and during that time I’ve worked incredibly hard on my recovery. I know I’ll never get back to performing, which still upsets me, but I’m determined to get my life back on track as best I can”.

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