F. Gary Gray Expected to Helm 'Fast 8'

In the race to find a director for the next installment of the "Fast and the Furious" franchise, Universal Pictures is putting the pedal to the metal.

Just hours after reports surfaced that the list of candidates had been narrowed to three -- or possibly even two -- news broke that the studio has settled on one person for "Fast 8": "Straight Outta Compton" director F. Gary Gray, who had emerged Monday afternoon as the frontrunner.

He edged out the likes of Louis Leterrier ("The Incredible Hulk"), Adam Wingard ("The Guest") and William Eubank ("The Signal").

Heat Vision and Deadline report Gray met Monday with producers and studio executives, as evidenced by the photo franchise star and executive producer Vin Diesel posted of himself with the director. Gray, whose hit "Straight Outta Compton was distributed by Universal, is said to be the studio's first choice; negotiations are expected to begin today.

The director previously worked with Diesel on the 2003 action film "A Man Apart," and with Dwayne Johnson on 2005 crime comedy "Be Cool." His credits also include the action thrillers "The Negotiator," "The Italian Job" and "Law Abiding Citizen."

It's unknown whether Gray is being eyed to helm only "Fast 8," or all three films in the franchise's final trilogy. Diesel had said he would make the director announcements on his Facebook page.

"Fast 8" is set to race into theaters in 2017.

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