Director Guillermo del Toro's Kaiju cinema/anime love letter Pacific Rim, like fellow Legendary Pictures film release Warcraft, was a larger box office success in China than it was stateside. The possibility of a Pacific Rim sequel happening became all the more likely after Legendary was acquired by China's Wanda Group around the beginning of this year, because of that. Said followup, titled Pacific Rim: Maelstrom, is now formally in production, under the direction of Marvel's Daredevil season 1 showrunner, Steven S. DeKnight.
Star Wars: Episode VII -The Force Awakens' John Boyega is starring in the Pacific Rim sequel as the son of Idris Elba's (now, deceased) character in del Toro's first installment, Stacker Pentecost. Other confirmed cast members in the sequel include Scott Eastwood (Suicide Squad) and singer/popstar Cailee Spaeny, as well as several Chinese actors in key roles.
Zhang Jin (Ip Man 3) is the latest Chinese actor to join the cast of Pacific Rim: Maelstrom, as confirmed by Legendary via press release. Other Chinese costars in the film include Jing Tian - who will also appear in Legendary's 2017 releases, The Great Wall and Kong: Skull Island - as well as Wesley Wong, Lily Ji, Chen Zitong, Lan Yingying and Qian Yongchen.
Here is the related statement about Jin's casting in particular, from Wanda Group VP & CEO Jack Gao:
“We are very excited that we have such amazing Chinese talent joining us on PACIFIC RIM – our new story has a strong connection to China and this great Chinese cast will help us bring it to life."
Given the original Pacific Rim's popularity in China - where it grossed $112 million of its $411 million worldwide box office take - and the fact that Wanda Group now owns Legendary, it come as less of a surprise to learn that Pacific Rim: Maelstrom has a "strong connection" to China. The Chinese market is a rapidly-growing one that Hollywood has been taking steps to tap into over the past few years; what with Legendary now working on multiple joint ventures with China and Captain America: Civil War directors Anthony and Joe Russo landing a major film deal with China, among other developments that have been announced over the past year specifically.
Most of the widely-praised elements in the first Pacific Rim - including, a talented international cast and a director with strong greek creed in the driver's seat (in this case, DeKnight) - are accounted for in Maelstrom too, so it doesn't seem as though the sequel's artistic qualities are being sacrificed too much, in order to appeal more to its Chinese audience. We will just have to wait and see if the outlook towards the sequel changes (or does not change), as filming continues and more official details about the storyline/characters of the next Pacific Rim installment come to light.
Source: Legendary Entertainment