What do you get when you team an Oscar-winning actor with an Emmy-winning one on the big screen? If you’re Legendary Pictures, you’re probably hoping the answer is “box office gold.”
Deadline reports that “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston is in early talks to star in The Great Wall, an epic from Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou which is also eyeing Matt Damon for a lead role. The film has been in the works for years; it once had Henry Cavill and Benjamin Walker lined up to star for director Ed Zwick before the project was ultimately handed over to Yimou to direct. Damon’s schedule is very busy – he’s lined up to shoot The Martian for Ridley Scott next, and then he’ll likely be jumping back into character as Jason Bourne/David Webb in the new Bourne film for director Paul Greengrass, so this project may not work out in the end. But Damon reportedly wanted to work with Yimou on Flowers of War before Christian Bale went on to ultimately star in that movie, so apparently everyone’s trying to work it all out. Seems like there shouldn’t be any scheduling issues with Cranston, though.
This project is Legendary’s attempt to make it big in the lucrative Chinese film market, since that part of the world has been increasing in importance in recent years when it comes to huge budget projects. Writer, producer, and former Focus Features CEO James Schamus recently spoke to a BAFTA crowd (via THR) and had some things to say that apply to this situation:
Hollywood is not American. Its revenues are only 30 to 40 percent American. Its primary purpose right now is to make movies that 20-year-old Chinese people want to see. That’s really the future.
You need look no further than the current state of most Hollywood blockbusters to know that he’s right on the money with that assessment, and The Great Wall sounds like an even more blatant attempt to pander to the lucrative Chinese fan base. We don’t know much about the movie in its current form, but the plot will supposedly answer the mystery of why the Great Wall was built and have a supernatural bent. It was recently rewritten by Tony Gilroy, the man who wrote all of the Bourne films, so there’s another connection that likely has Damon interested in joining. We’ll keep you posted with more as we learn it.
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