Ford to star in third ‘Mummy’

Shooting will begin in Montreal July 27

Universal Pictures and director Rob Cohen have set Luke Ford to star in the third installment of “The Mummy,” in a move that potentially sets the franchise up for future films.

The 26-year-old Australian actor was cast with the expectation that he will eventually carry the franchise.

“We may spin off into a complete father-son direction with Brendan (Fraser, who played the adventurer who battled the monster in the first two installments), but by getting an actor who is in his 20s and not a teenager, we can also put the future on his shoulders,” Cohen told Daily Variety. “He tested against four much more established actors, and he was magic when he read with Brendan.”

As sequel star salaries grow prohibitively expensive, several franchises are bringing in new blood. Shia LaBeouf is playing the son of Indiana Jones in the fourth installment of that franchise, and Fox just hired David Goyer to develop the Sheldon Turner-scripted “Magneto,” an “X-Men” spinoff to be driven by two young leads that will play Magneto and Professor Xavier.

In “The Mummy” sequel, Ford will play Alex O’Connell, the 20ish son of adventurer Rick O’Connell (Fraser), who journeys into the forbidden tombs of China and into the Himalayas, where they run into a new shape-shifting mummy, a former Chinese emperor who was cursed by a female wizard.

Jet Li plays the mummy, Michelle Yeoh the wizard. The studio has tested six actresses to replace Rachel Weisz in the role of Evelyn Carnahan O’Connell after she declined to reprise.

Script was written by “Smallville” creators Miles Millar and Alfred Gough; Sean Daniel, Jim Jacks, Stephen Sommers and Bob Ducsay are producing.

Shooting will begin in Montreal on July 27, and then move to China. Pic will open in July 2008, just before the Olympics begin in Beijing.

The first two “Mummy” films grossed $841 million worldwide and spawned spinoff “The Scorpion King.”

Ford just finished starring with Toni Collette in the Elissa Down-directed “The Black Balloon,” and has appeared in “Kokoda” and “Junction Boys.”

Ford’s repped by WMA and Australia-based Matt Andrews of Marquee.

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