‘F9’: A Stunt Gone Wrong Leads to a Million-Dollar Fine

vin diesel in fast and furious 9

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In a recent turn of events, the makers of the action-packed movie Fast & Furious 9, known as FF9 Pictures Limited, faced a heavy penalty. The company, a branch of Universal Pictures, was fined over $1 million. This decision followed a tragic incident on set that caused severe injuries to stuntman Joe Watts.

Joe Watts, a seasoned stunt performer with credits in movies like Solo: A Star Wars Story and Pokemon: Detective Pikachu, faced a life-altering ordeal in 2019. During a stunt for F9, something went terribly wrong, and he fell 25 feet onto concrete. This accident left him with a traumatic brain injury and a fractured skull, changing his life forever.

What makes this incident even more heart-wrenching is that it could have been prevented. Investigations revealed a critical oversight: the line on Watts’ stunt vest had detached. This failure, coupled with other lapses like the lack of recent harness inspections and inadequate safety matting, led to the unfortunate event.

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The U.K.’s Health and Safety Executive, who pursued the case, highlighted these shortcomings. They pointed out that FF9 Pictures had not fully considered the risk of equipment failure, a crucial aspect of stunt safety. The aftermath of this oversight is not just a financial loss for the company but a devastating impact on Watts’ life.

The Luton Magistrates Court, near London, heard the case. There, District Judge Talwinder Buttar imposed the hefty fine of £800,000 (equivalent to $1 million) on FF9. The company was also ordered to cover $18,600 in costs. Judge Buttar remarked on Watts’ fortune in surviving such a severe accident.

Sadly, Joe Watts’ career as a stuntman is over due to his injuries. He’s now suing FF9 Pictures for $1.2 million for personal injury. His lawsuit poignantly states that his ability to work has been permanently impaired.

This incident serves as a sobering reminder of the risks stunt performers face and the paramount importance of safety measures in film production. It’s a wake-up call for the industry, emphasizing that ensuring the safety of its daredevil heroes is as crucial as the thrilling action sequences they bring to life.

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