Thesp joins 'Furious' franchise

Lucas Black has been cast in Universal Pictures’ third installment in its car-racing franchise, now officially titled “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.”

Justin Lin-helmed production gets under way in October.

Joining Black in the cast is rapper-turned-actor Bow Wow (who appears in “Roll Bounce”), Brian Tee, Nikki Griffin and newcomer Nathalie Kelley.

“Tokyo” will also reunite Lin with two thesps from his 2002 indie hit “Better Luck Tomorrow,” Sung Kang and Jason Tobin.

Pic is one of U’s major titles for its summer 2006 sked, already slotted for a June 16 release.

“Tokyo Drift” will take place in the world of Japanese “drift racing.” Story centers on illegal drag racer Shaun Boswell (played by Black), who flees the U.S. for Japan to avoid jail time back home.

Once there, though, he begins racing again and soon finds himself enmeshed in the Yakuza-controlled criminal underworld.

The first “Fast and the Furious” grossed $236 million at the worldwide box office; 2003’s “2 Fast 2 Furious” brought in $207 million worldwide.

“Tokyo Drift” does not include any of the stars of the previous two “Furious” pics. However, both of the previous pics in the series were built around the cars and used talent that was, at least prior to the franchise, largely unknown; first “Furious” provided breakout roles for both Vin Diesel and Paul Walker.

Neal Moritz is producing “Tokyo Drift,” with Clayton Townsend exec producing. Chris Morgan and Kario Salem penned the script.

Black appeared in U’s “Friday Night Lights” and will next be seen in “Jarhead” alongside Jake Gyllenhaal and Jamie Foxx.

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