Fraser returns for ‘Mummy 3’

Weisz leaving lucrative franchise

Brendan Fraser has closed a rich deal to return in “The Mummy 3,” but Rachel Weisz is not coming back.

Rob Cohen will direct the pic, which is expected to begin production late in the summer. It will be set in China and will introduce Jet Li as a villain.

Universal is planning a summer 2008 release; franchise has earned more than $830 million worldwide. “The Mummy” bowed in 1999 and “The Mummy Returns” in 2001.

Weisz has won an Oscar and had a baby since the last installment, has dropped out of talks to reprise her role. She has several other projects in the offing, including “The Brothers Bloom” and Phillip Noyce’s Outback drama “Dirt Music,” set to begin shooting in August.

Script is by “Smallville” creators Miles Millar and Alfred Gough, who will do another pass that will factor in the absence of Weisz. Universal is holding up a greenlight pending a final rewrite, but a late summer start date is still expected.

Fraser, who previously toplined “George of the Jungle,” has proven a reliable franchise performer. Word has it he’s made a top-of-the-food-chain money deal for “The Mummy 3,” the first film in the series that won’t be directed by Stephen Sommers.

Sean Daniel, Jim Jacks, Sommers and his shingle partner Bob Ducsay are producing.

Fraser is also starring in two New Line-distributed films with tentpole aspirations: “Journey 3D,” an adaptation of Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth” that Walden Media and New Line are producing, and “Inkheart,” the Iain Softley-directed adaptation of the Cornelia Funke fantasy novel. New Line is eyeing 2008 releases for both pics, which could lead to a trio of event-sized Fraser films.

Fraser’s repped by WMA.

Popular on Variety

More Scene

  • Jessica Biel Limetown Premiere

    Why 'Limetown' Star & Producer Jessica Biel Thought the Show Was Based on a True Story

    In a world of increasingly outlandish headlines, the story behind “Limetown” — in which an entire community in rural Tennessee disappears overnight — seems plausible. Even Jessica Biel, who executive produces and stars in the Facebook Watch television adaptation of the hit 2015 podcast, was initially convinced that it was real. “I just thought I [...]

  • Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Watchmen

    Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Talks 'Watchmen,' 'Matrix 4': 'I'm Not Nervous At All'

    Yahya Adbul-Mateen II is facing some serious pressure. The actor is in the middle of a massive career surge, taking on roles in HBO’s “Watchmen” and the upcoming “Matrix 4” — and with those roles, the expectations of their fans.  “I have the responsibility of upholding something that was already done while also bringing in [...]

  • David Lindelof Watchmen Premiere

    'Watchmen' Creator Damon Lindelof Weighs in on Martin Scorsese's Marvel Criticisms

    Damon Lindelof disagrees with Martin Scorsese about his recent claims that Marvel movies don’t qualify as cinema. The director’s proclamation, along with the polarized critical reception of “Joker,” are the latest salvos in a long history of questioning comic book movies’ place in cinematic history. The lingering question: Can superhero fare be considered “high art?” [...]

  • Anne Hathaway Modern Love

    Anne Hathaway Talks Mental Health Awareness, Playing a Bipolar Woman on Amazon's 'Modern Love'

    In Amazon Prime’s upcoming “Modern Love,” Anne Hathaway sheds light on an important facet of living with mental health issues, playing a bipolar woman who struggles with dating. “We’re all becoming more sensitive, wiser and more cognizant of gentility, and especially emotional gentility. I think those conversations are starting to happen. And I think the desire [...]

  • Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron.

    Charlize Theron Could Win Second Oscar for Playing Megyn Kelly in 'Bombshell'

    Charlize Theron walked on stage before a screening of “Bombshell” at West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center on Sunday night and announced to the crowd, “I’m about to s— myself.” The Oscar winner had good reason to be nervous. The screening of the Jay Roach-directed drama about the fall of Fox News boss Roger Ailes was [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content