April 12, 2007–Brendan Fraser has closed a rich deal to return in “The Mummy 3,” but without Oscar winner Rachel Weisz. It will be set in China and will introduce Jet Li as a villain.
Rob Cohen will direct the picture, which will begin production late in the summer. Universal is planning a summer 2008 release. Script of “Mummy 3″ is by “Smallville” creators Miles Millar and Alfred Gough. The two-film franchise has earned more than $830 million worldwide: “The Mummy” opened in 1999, and “The Mummy Returns” in 2001.
Weisz, who won an Oscar and had a baby since the last picturet, decided to drop out. Instead, she may star in “The Brothers Bloom” and Phillip Noyce's drama “Dirt Music,” set to begin shooting in August.
Fraser, who previously starred in “George of the Jungle,” is crucial for the franchise performer. “Mummy 3″ is the first film in the series not to be directed by Stephen Sommers.
Fraser is also starring in two big New Line films: “Journey 3D,” an adaptation of Jules Verne's “Journey to the Center of the Earth” that Walden Media and New Line are producing, and “Inkheart,” the Iain Softley-directed adaptation of the Cornelia Funke fantasy novel. New Line plans 2008 releases for both pictures, menaing busy year for Fraser with a trio of big films.