Mummy 3 to Unravel in China First

The next film in Universal’s lucrative Mummy movie franchise will most likely debut in China a week before hitting theaters in North America, according to Daily Variety. The vfx-heavy sequel titled The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is being shot in Shanghai with a largely Chinese crew, including co-stars Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh.

Franchise star Brendan Fraser will be back for another supernatural adventure, but Maria Bello is taking over the role played by Rachel Weiss in the first two films. The third installment is also being shot by a new director. Stephen Sommers, who also spearheaded Universal’s monster mash-up Van Helsing, has passed the torch to Rob Cohen (Stealth, The Fast and the Furious). Rhythm & Hues and Digital Domain are handling the lion’s share of the visual effects work.

In addition to honoring the people who worked on the film and capitalizing on the story’s cultural and historical themes, the Chinese bow will no doubt aid in keeping piracy to a minimum. A number of Hollywood Studios have begun sending product to China earlier in a bid to keep their films from showing up for sale on the black market before they open in the country’s theaters.