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'Fast and Furious 8' Eyeing to Shoot in Cuba

The Fast and Furious franchise is known for globetrotting to some of the world's most exotic and exciting locations, taking stars Vin Diesel, Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, Ludacris and the late Paul Walker from the streets of Los Angeles to places like Japan, London and Abu Dhabi.

But the eighth installment could potentially send the racing action series to a place rarely explored by Hollywood films: Cuba.

Sources say Fast and Furious 8's director F. Gary Gray recently returned from a scouting trip that included the previously embargoed nation as part of professional research trip. Sources say the production has moved forward with the paperwork to shoot there, making it the first Hollywood studio film to shoot on the island since the embargo was set in the 1960s.

"Universal Pictures is currently in the process seeking approval from the United States and Cuban governments to explore shooting a portion of the next installment of the Fast & Furious series in Cuba," said a statement from the studio.

It's been a little over a year since President Obama chose to re-establish ties with Cuba and ease restrictions on American travel to the island. A U.S. Embassy was opened for the first time in more than 50 years, and the new policies have opened up the possibility of increased filming on the island.

A production the size of Furious 8, which would likely include dozens, maybe hundreds, of crew, has yet to make its way to Cuba. A film has to get a special license to shoot in Cuba, which is no easy feat, even after Obama lifted some of the restrictions. A film like Papa got the exemption for the license because it was a Hemingway story which required them to shoot in places Hemingway visited. However, locations for any film are never set in stone and could easily change before shooting, and sources say the paperwork from the treasury department has not yet been approved for them to shoot in Cuba in the spring.

While the film community is strong in Cuba (the Havana Film Festival has taken place every December since 1979, and the International School of Cinema and Television is world-renowned), the infrastructure issues, like spotty internet, can add challenges to any film production, especially one as big and ambitious as Furious 8.

Sources say production on Furious 8, like its previous installment, will be based in Atlanta, Ga., but a slew of exotic locations are being eyed including Russia and Iceland.

One interesting thing about filming Fast 8 in Cuba is the country's prevalence of highly unusual cars. Due to trade embargoes, Cuba never imported millions of new cars as the US did. This has led to a huge amount of well-loved vintage cars, something that could be visually striking for the Fast & Furious franchise.

Some cars may need a trademark Toretto upgrade - this Cuban car, like so many others, is parked on specially built slopes to give it the downhill start it requires to get going.

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