How studio finished making "Furious 7"

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This photo provided by Universal Pictures shows, Paul Walker as Brian, in a scene from "Furious 7."

AP Photo/Universal Pictures

It will be a bittersweet movie premiere Wednesday night in Hollywood for "Furious 7," the newest installment in the blockbuster "Fast and Furious" series. Insiders predict a record-setting opening at the box office.

For nearly 15 years, the "Fast and Furious" movies have found countless ways to crash a car, and a lot of people have gone along for the ride.

The first six films made $2.4 billion, making it one of the most successful franchises in Hollywood, reports CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy.

Yet, filmmakers had to figure out how to make number 7 without one of their biggest stars. In 2013, with the film only half shot, Paul Walker died in a horrific car crash. It was unrelated to the movie.

"Certainly, this is the rare occasion where a major $250 million film loses its star halfway through," Entertainment Weekly's Darren Franich said.

Some questioned whether the movie would go on after Walker's death.

"Of course Universal was going to finish this movie," Franich said. "They had spent hundreds of millions of dollars in hopes of making hundreds of millions more. At the same time, there's a real sincerity to this film in its notion of being finished for Paul. I mean, Vin Diesel just recently named his daughter after Paul Walker."

This is a cast that had become a family, so to finish "Furious 7," the director used old footage, computer generated images and audio of Walker from previous installments. He even hired Walker's actual family, his two brothers, Cody and Caleb, as stand-ins.

"I think the idea of bringing in someone's brothers to finish off their role in a film is essentially unprecedented," Franich said.

Of course, the movie is still all about the action, and Walker is at the center of a lot it.

Vin Diesel told Variety that the film "will probably win best picture at the Oscars."

Probably not, but it might be the most touching tribute this year, cleverly disguised as an action film.