Now you see China-style magic

People | 18 Jul 2016

A Chinese-language spin-off of Macau- based, magician-centered thriller Now You See Me is in the works.

The original film, which came out in 2103, and this year's Now You See Me 2 fared well at the mainland box office. The sequel took the yuan equivalent of US$92 million (HK$715.7 million), besting US receipts considerably. They stood at US$62 million at last count.

It has also earned HK$30.6 million at the Hong Kong box office since its release on June 8.

Entertainment company Lionsgate and Beijing-based Leomus Pictures are in talks to make a Chinese version of the film.

"We're working closely with Lionsgate on the story," Leomus Pictures chief executive Qie Jie tells The Hollywood Reporter. "And a Hollywood writer will be involved to make sure the spin-off is aligned with the Now You See Me franchise and has the same level of quality."

Leomus was involved in the early production of Now You See Me 2, advising Lionsgate on how to localize the film for the Chinese market. And the

spin-off will be an official US-China co-production, featuring a mostly Chinese cast and shot in the mainland.

The sequel features returning stars Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson and Morgan Freeman. Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe appears as the villain and Lizzy Caplan replaces Isla Fisher.

The studio's casting of Taiwanese singer Jay Chou in a supporting role was reckoned to have been instrumental for its success in the mainland. He was selected for his love of magic.

"We told them that even if it's a small role the Chinese character must be meaningful and indispensable to the story," Qiu said.

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