Fans of the late Paul Walker will still be able to see the actor in several upcoming films.

Walker was on Thanksgiving break from shooting “Fast & Furious 7” in Atlanta when the Porsche he was riding in crashed in Santa Clarita on Saturday. Universal Studios, which releases the popular car racing franchise, was not commenting Monday on the status of the shoot, but it is believed that the sequel is about halfway through production.

Discussions about rewrites and working the remainder of the shoot around Walker's absence are reportedly underway. The film had been scheduled for a July 11, 2014 release.

 

 

Two other movies that the actor had completed should come out before then.

In fact “Hours,” an indie production set during the chaos of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, will hit theaters and Video On Demand on Dec. 13.

“It's something that we certainly debated over the weekend, and ultimately came to the conclusion that Paul was so immensely proud of the project and he wanted people to see the movie,” said “Hours” producer Peter Safran. “We felt this was the most respectful way to move forward.”

“We spent the weekend talking about what the best thing was to do,” added Paul Presburger, CEO of Pantelion Films, which is distributing the movie. “You know, do we pull the release? We contemplated everything. It came down to, this is the plan that we put in place with Paul, we were moving forward and he was supportive and excited about the plan, and we felt that the best way to move forward was just to continue with that plan.”

 

 

“Hours,” in which Walker plays a father trapped in a storm-hit hospital with his prematurely born baby, has been scheduled for the Dec. 13 release for at least six months. It will be playing in one theater in each of 15 U.S. markets. The AMC Block 30 in Orange is the only one currently booked for the Southern California area, but Presburger said that it could expand to other venues if a demand emerges. The studio has no plans to change the film's promotional materials, which like its playdates were locked-in before the actor's death.

 

 

Another Walker film, the French-produced, English-language action thriller “Brick Mansions,” did not have a release date before the weekend. Although all of the actor's scenes have been shot, the movie is still in post-production. Like at Universal, discussions are going on at “Mansions'” U.S. distributor, Relativity Media, about how best to proceed. An early 2014 release seems most likely.

“We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the sudden death of Paul Walker,” Relativity president Tucker Tooley said in a statement put out over the weekend. “Paul was an incredibly talented artist, devoted philanthropist and friend. Our hearts go out to his family and our thoughts and prayers are with them.”

 

 

Distributors walk a fine line when faced with releasing a movie after a beloved actor has recently died. They need to be seen as neither exploiting nor dodging the terrible fact, and display the right degree of sensitivity in advertisements and timing.

“There's the conundrum of how to deal with the tragedy of the death and honor the family and friends and those grieving toward their loved one,” observed Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Rentrak, a global media measurement company. “And also, formulating a strategy on how to deal with the release of the upcoming movies, how the fans might react to those movies and the marketing of those movies. It presents quite a challenging situation.”

 

 

Recent examples indicate that an actor's death can have a positive — or, at least, not detrimental — effect on his or her remaining films' box office performances. It's widely believed that Heath Ledger's passing contributed to “The Dark Knight's” extraordinary popularity, and “Enough Said,” the first release featuring James Gandolfini following his death last June, is one of the biggest indie hits of the year.

It's too early to say whether Walker's death has triggered a spike in rentals, streaming and downloads of his previous films, but if the run on “Sopranos” episodes following Gandolfini's passing is any indication, that's a likely scenario. As of Monday afternoon, Universal Studios Home Entertainment was still planning to release the “Fast & Furious 6” DVD and Blu-rays on Dec. 10 in North America; the hit summer spectacular is already available to own on digital.

 

 

“I think people have the need to see our favorite actors as we know them, on-screen,” Dergarabedian mused. “I think there's just this inherent need that's part of human nature. Of course, it's a bittersweet situation because you know that person is gone. But at the same time they live on on the movie screen.

“And I'm sure that most actors would want that. They'd want to be honored by not hiding them away once they've passed away, but by celebrating them as they were by seeing their movies.”