Chinese actress Li Bingbing is in final talks to star opposite Jason Statham and Jessica McNamee in Warner Bros. prehistoric shark tentpole “Meg.”
“National Treasure” helmer Jon Turteltaub will direct the film. Fan Bingbing had been cast but has departed due to scheduling issues.
The film will be co-financed by Flagship Entertainment; Gravity Pictures, a division of China Media Capital (CMC); and Warner Bros. Gravity Pictures will distribute the film in China, with Warners handling elswhere.
Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, Belle Avery and Colin Wilson are producing. Executive producers are Wei Wayne Jiang, Barrie M. Osborne, Randy Greenberg and Gerald R. Molen.
“Meg” is set for a March 2, 2018, release. The story is based on Steve Alten’s novel “MEG: A Novel of Deep Terror,” published in 1997, in which the ancient Megalodon species is discovered to have survived in the Mariana Trench due to a barrier of cold water.
“Meg” centers on an international underwater observation program, led by Chinese scientists, which comes under attack with its deep-sea submersible disabled and trapped at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Statham will portray a former naval captain, who’s recruited even though he faced the predator years before and was forced him to abort his mission and abandon half his crew.
Variety first reported on Aug. 2 that “Battle of the Sexes” star McNamee had come on board as the female lead.
Li Bingbing’s film credits date back to 1999 with Zhang Yuan’s “Seventeen Years” and include “Waiting Alone,” “A World Without Thieves,” “The Knot,” “The Forbidden Kingdom,” “The Message” and “Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame.” Her first leading role in an English-language film was “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan,” followed by “Transformers: Age of Extinction” and “Resident Evil: Retribution.”
She is repped by UTA in the U.S.