By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist April 24, 2012 at 8:02AM
The power shift in the blockbuster world is starting to drift away from Hollywood. The U.S. still makes the bulk of the product, of course. But particularly for action and science-fiction movies (doubly so for those in 3D), studios rely on overseas grosses, especially in Asian markets like Japan, India, Korea and, most importantly, China, all of which are hungry for tentpole product to make their movies profitable. It's a telling indicator that blockbusters like "Battleship" and "The Avengers" are landing overseas weeks ahead of their debuts in the U.S. And more and more, studio movies are engineered from the ground up to play well abroad as Chinese and Indian companies are increasingly financing large chunks of blockbusters, and international stars crop up in the pictures -- take Japanese actor Tadanobu Osano, who plays essentially the second lead in both "Battleship" and the upcoming "47 Ronin."
And now Marvel seems to be getting in on the action too, with the announcement last week that Chinese company DMG are helping to finance "Iron Man 3," and that the film will shoot partly in China. Possibly with one of their biggest stars, as Twitch have news that popular Hong Kong site NeonPunch are reporting that Andy Lau ("Infernal Affairs," "House of Flying Daggers") is in final negotiations to join the cast of the Robert Downey Jr-starring superhero extravaganza.
Although they initially suggested that he might be playing Tony Stark's arch-nemesis The Mandarin, it seems that Chinese reluctance to have their own play villains (Chow Yun-Fat was edited out of the third "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie entirely for release in the country) means that that's not the case: Lau will apparently play a scientist friend of Tony Stark's, who "represents China’s technology sector – and will use China’s armored heroes to HELP Iron Man defeat The Mandarin who is seen as a terrorist against both the US and China," with the suggestion that the already-cast Kingsley will be playing the villain. This doesn't quite gel with what we've already heard -- that Kingsley is not The Mandarin, and that director Shane Black doesn't like the character -- but the source seems to be reliable enough, and the idea that Lau might crop up in a film like this is entirely plausible. Could the "Extremis" storyline be borrowing elements from the world of The Mandarin? Guess we'll find out out soon enough.
So, file under rumor for now, but should this come true, the actor would join the returning Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle and Scarlett Johansson, and new additions Kingsley, Guy Peace and Jessica Chastain, in the film which will open on May 3, 2013.