May 26, 2013

Tradecraft: More Transporter Movies Coming!

It was EuropaCorp's Transporter movies starring Jason Statham that ushered in the whole Neo-Eurospy Age. From their success came further mid-budget action movies with European locations (and money) and Hollywood stars with careers in need of reviving, including From Paris With LoveLockout, Erased and, of course, the mega-hit Taken movies. But now it looks like the original is coming back! Variety reports (via Dark Horizons) that Luc Besson's EuropaCorp has struck a deal with China's Fundamental Films to co-produce not one but three more entries in the Transporter series! What's not known right now, unfortunately, is whether or not star Jason Statham will reprise his role as Frank Martin. (Frank Martin is not a spy, but a professional "transporter," yet he manages to have adventures filled with enough daffy action to rival Roger Moore's James Bond.) Since 2008's Transporter 3 (review here), Chris Vance (Burn Notice) has stepped into the role for a TV version of the character. The show has already aired in Europe (and is on DVD there), but has yet to be seen on Cinemax here in the United States. So will the new trilogy star Statham, Vance, or someone else? That remains to be seen.

What is known, according to the trade, is that "one of the three installments will likely lens in China, qualifying it as a French-Chinese co-production." Together, Luc Besson's EuropaCorp and Fundamental will finance the new films, each of which "will be budgeted in the $30 million to $40 million range." Fundamental will distribute in China. Fox, who distributed the first two pictures in most territories, has a first-look option on the new trilogy, while Lionsgate, who handled the third one, has a second-look. No director has been hired yet. Personally, with the Chinese connection, I would like to see Hong Kong director Corey Yuen, who co-directed the first film with Louis Leterrier and choreographed the first two, return to the fold. (His Hong Kong spy flick So Close is tremendous fun.) But the most essential ingredient is undoubtedly Statham! I hope they get him signed ASAP.

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