Although Fast 8 is still a year away from its release, Universal Studios has been wasting absolutely no time marketing the upcoming film. Production has just begun with principal photography starting in Cuba.

Before you gloss over that fact, we’ll repeat: Cuba. Until last summer, the United States had maintained a trade embargo on the island nation dating as far back as 1962, at the beginning of the Cold War, with travel and business between the two countries forbidden, among other things. On July 20, 2015, President Barack Obama eased the embargo, in part at least, and now travel betwixt nations is permitted. This will be one of the first (and certainly the biggest) Hollywood movies to film in Cuba since that historic yet controversial shift.

Vin Diesel, star and producer of the mega-successful franchise, posted this video in Dom Toretto’s “homeland”  where “the Torettos first started.”

Try not to hurl with the spinning camera view as you thank your lucky stars Diesel isn’t the camera operator on these films.


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Furthering the excitement over the news, this video featuring bikini-clad Cubanas (we’re assuming equally exposed Cuban men were scarce) welcoming the cast and crew was posted on the Fast & Furious official Twitter page:



The location does present some challenges, though. Due to its decades under communist rule, Cuba isn’t well-outfitted for large Hollywood film productions, not to mention it’s such a different culture. While the costs are much less in some areas, such as labor, the expenses involved with carting in necessary equipment can be pretty high.

In 2014, Bob Yari directed Papa, the first Hollywood movie to film in Cuba since the early 60s at that point, one year before travel restrictions were lifted. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in January, Yari commented on the challenges of setting up production on the island:

“There isn’t the infrastructure and facilities and equipment down there, so a lot of it has to be brought in,” said Yari. “The crews are wonderful, they’re very dedicated and passionate about what they do, but they’re not used to the pace of U.S. filmmaking.”

Given how much red tape still remains to be granted permission to film in Cuba, it’s a strong show of confidence on the part of Universal that it’s willing to go to so much trouble and expense to acquire this location. Not surprising given that Furious 7 was one of the highest grossing films in 2015, pulling in $1.5 billion globally.

Fast 8 will release in US theaters April 14, 2017.


Image: Universal