- Actress Fan Bingbing will drop out of Meg due to scheduling conflicts.
- Fan has been named China’s most influential celebrity by Forbes three times.
- The setting for the film, based on a 1997 shark thriller, has been moved from California to China to accommodate Chinese financing for the project.
Chinese actress Fan Bingbing has announced she is pulling out of the thriller Meg (巨齿鲨), being made by Warner Bros. and Chinese company Gravity Pictures.
The 35-year-old Fan,who appeared in X-Men: Days of Future Past, has had to leave the adaptation of Steve Alten’s 1997 shark thriller novel due to scheduling conflicts, according to a Weibo post sent from Fan’s studio account on Monday afternoon.
Fan has been named China’s most influential celebrity three times by Forbes, with an estimated net worth of RMB 128 million (US$19.25 million)
The actress’s schedule for September, when filming is meant to start, is already taken up with promotional activities for two other movies. Warner Bros. had set a March 2, 2018, release date for the creature feature, according to Fan Bingbing Studio.
I Am Not Madame Bovary (我不是潘金莲), which is directed by Feng Xiaogang, and L.O.R.D-Legend of Ravaging Dynasties (爵迹) are both expected to hit theaters on September 30.
“We’re extremely grateful to Meg for their recognition of Fan Bingbing, but we need to prioritize the above-mentioned films and finish what we’ve started,” the Weibo post reads.
“We’ve already allocated all of September toI Am Not Madame Bovary andL.O.R.D-Legend of Ravaging Dynasties and are unable to make time to travel overseas to shoot, so we’ve decided to pull out of Meg.”
Fan was meant to make up part of the Chinese cast in the film which centers around a megalodon — a 30-meter, prehistoric shark that surfaces off the coast of modern day China to wreck havoc.
The original Steve Alten novel set the action off the coast of California, but switching the location to the coast of China helped in bringing on Gravity Pictures as a co-financier. Gravity Pictures will co-produce and co-finance the movie and distribute it in China.
Fan’s decision to pull out of the film is just the latest in a series of setbacks for a project that has been in development for years, with directors ranging from Guillermo del Toro to Eli Roth and Speed director Jan de Bont all being connected to the project at some point.
The film was originally meant to be made by Disney in 1997, but fell into a protracted production turnaround after the studio was unable to kick-start it before another shark movie, Deep Blue Sea, hit theatres.
Fan’s last English-language was movie Skiptrace (绝地逃亡), the Renny Harlin-directed action movie starring Jackie Chan and Johnny Knoxville. The action-buddy-comedy dominated the Chinese box office in its opening weekend and ended up raking in RMB 887.83 million (USD 133.6 million).